An independent investigation into alleged misappropriations of public funds by trade ministry officials has uncovered another case of a senior official using tax money for personal reasons.

The investigators, led by Kazuo Tezuka, a former head of the No. 2 Tokyo Bar Association, have also discovered that a total of 37 million yen in unused appropriations had been secretly pooled by a ministry section for unknown purposes.

Their report, submitted to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa on Friday, describes the senior officials’ conduct as “extremely inappropriate.”

But it denies suspicion that the ministry itself was systematically involved in raising off-the-book funds.

Yusuke Sami, head of the Policy Planning Office of the Minister’s Secretariat, had inherited from his predecessor a pool of about 20 million yen in residual funds, the report says. He failed to immediately inform his supervisors of the existence of the fund and personally used some of the money.

But the report concludes that Sami’s act did not amount to embezzlement as he used only a limited amount of the money and has already returned it.

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