• Kyodo


The Saitama District Court sentenced a former auditor for racing car engine maker Mugen Co. to three years in prison Tuesday for evading 1 billion yen in corporate taxes.

Presiding Judge Yasuo Shimoyama found Norio Hirokawa, 63, guilty but did not hand him the four-year term sought by prosecutors.

The district court is scheduled to rule Thursday on Hirokawa’s codefendant, former Mugen President Hirotoshi Honda, 64, son of the late Soichiro Honda, founder of automaker Honda Motor Co.

Prosecutors arrested Hirokawa and Honda in July 2003.

They were charged with violating corporate tax law by hiding more than 2.84 billion yen of Mugen’s income by moving the money to a company named MG Estate. The transfer was made under the guise of leasing payments and other transactions and helped the company evade some 1 billion yen in taxes.

Both pleaded not guilty during their trial. Hirokawa said he gave no instructions to evade taxes, while Honda insisted Hirokawa embezzled Mugen property.

Mugen, based in Asaka, Saitama Prefecture, was established in 1973 and has been developing and making car engines for use in Formula 1 racing cars. Cars with Mugen engines have won four such races. In 2004, Mugen handed over its operations, facilities and employees to M-TEC Co.

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