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A female worker at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi embezzled nearly 1 billion yen over 12 years, and the bank was oblivious to the theft for the entire period, it was learned Friday.

The Financial Services Agency slapped BTM with a business improvement order Friday over its failure to detect the crime.

According to the FSA, the woman was a contract-based employee who had been dispatched from a personnel agency affiliated with BTM.

The 54-year-old worker, who oversaw customer liaisons, pocketed some 990 million yen from customers’ deposits, according to bank officials.

The bank discovered the embezzlement on May 26, after a suspicious customer alerted a BTM branch the previous day, the officials said.

An internal investigation revealed the employee had been embezzling customers’ money from May 1993 to May 2005.

BTM’s subsidiary fired her on June 4.

The woman had lured customers to transfer their money into long-term deposits with higher interest rates, from which she took money, mainly to pay off personal debts.

The financial products she pedaled did not exist, BTM officials said.

Bank officials declined to disclose any further details, saying it was a matter for police.

The FSA said BTM had serious compliance and internal control system problems. “We will strengthen our internal control system by carrying out improvement plans,” BTM said in a statement.

This is the second time the FSA has hit Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc. in the space of a month. Earlier in August, MTFG and UFJ Holdings Inc. formally announced the postponement of the planned integration of their core banking units — BTM and UFJ Bank — until Jan. 1, three months later than scheduled, following a request by the financial watchdog.

BTM will hand in the improvement plans, which addresses internal control system improvements, by Sept. 26.

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