Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. said Wednesday it has punished 69 executives and employees in connection with illegal sales practices and nonpayment of insurance money.

The life insurer said it will withhold wages and allowances to President Ryotaro Kaneko for six months.

In addition, two board members, including Senior Managing Director Shigeru Hirata, formerly in charge of the insurance payouts division, will resign as of March 31, it said.

A further 15 executives, including managing directors, will have their pay cut by up to 70 percent for three months. The 42 salespeople who perpetrated the illegal contract solicitations and committed other illicit acts will also get pay cuts.

“We are deeply repentant and apologize because our company has greatly annoyed policyholders and undermined people’s trust,” the insurer said in a statement.

On Feb. 25, the Financial Services Agency ordered Meiji Yasuda Life to suspend part of its policy sales operations for two weeks due to the illegal and fraudulent practices. The suspension ends Thursday.

At the time the order was issued, the financial regulator said it had received many complaints from policyholders. The number of cases in violation of the Insurance Business Law totaled 162 from April 1999 through last September, it said.

One of the illicit practices involved sales staff who would recommend that customers not report past diseases they may have caught so they could be recognized as qualified to buy policies, they said.

The insurer later told the resultant policyholders they were not entitled to receive insurance money on grounds that they failed to give the insurer their medical records.

The company illicitly refused to pay a total of 1.5 billion yen to policyholders.

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