OSAKA (Kyodo A West Japan Railway Co. subsidiary has fired 12 workers and reprimanded 21 others for pocketing at least 5 million yen from sales of coffee served aboard sleeper express trains, the company said Sunday.

The disciplinary measures were effective March 29, according to officials of West Japan Railway Food Service Net Co.

Because the employees are returning the money, the subsidiary is not planning to file any criminal complaints, the officials said.

The fraud started soon after the Twilight Express sleeper trains that link Osaka and Sapporo were launched in 1989, according to the company.

The firm said it did not notice the fraud despite the discrepancy between reported sales and coffee inventory as refills were served free of charge. It came to light after one of the employees alerted the company about the practice.

The company first estimated that the total amount of misappropriated money could reach 14 million yen but couldn’t prove it because some workers denied involvement in the theft, they said.

Ken Ouchi, president of the food service firm, and five other executives were slapped with punitive measures such as pay cuts.

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