National

EX-EIE CHIEF WAS APPEALING CONVICTION

Real estate mogul Takahashi dies

Harunori Takahashi, once called the king of resort development projects in the South Pacific, died Monday of a brain hemorrhage at a Tokyo hospital, according to his family. He was 59.

He was in the middle of an appeal of his conviction for breach of trust in a loan scandal involving two now-defunct credit associations.

Takahashi bought overseas hotels and domestic golf courses during the bubble economy, when he was president of resort developer EIE International Corp. He led the EIE group to amass assets totaling about 1 trillion yen at its peak.

Takahashi was arrested in 1995, the year after the collapse of Tokyo Kyowa Credit Association, of which he was chairman. He was found guilty by the Tokyo district and high courts of breach of trust in an illegal money-lending business involving Tokyo Kyowa and Anzen Credit Bank, both no longer operating.

Takahashi appealed the June 2003 high court ruling to the Supreme Court, which sentenced him to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Before the two credit unions collapsed in 1994, he was known to have wined and dined senior Finance Ministry officials.

According to the district and high court rulings, Takahashi was involved in arranging about 22.1 billion yen in illegal loans from the two credit unions to a number of companies, including some he had connections with and some run by relatives of former labor minister Toshio Yamaguchi.

Takahashi was charged with conspiring with Anzen officials over loans involving Anzen Credit Bank.