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A number of transport ministry bureaucrats misappropriated a total of 4.43 million yen through abuse of business trip expense accounts in fiscal 2004, a recent ministry probe has shown.

According to the internal probe by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, 28 officials received a total of 680,000 yen for airfare costs by submitting receipts for standard plane fares when in reality they took flights using discount tickets.

The officials obtained the receipts by buying full-fare tickets first and changing them later, the probe showed.

The remaining 3.75 million yen went to ministry officials who traveled by plane and stayed at hotels or inns at discount package tour prices but claimed the maximum allowable amount for hotel fees under a ministry rule.

The ministry discovered the inappropriate use of funds after scrutinizing records of 26,048 trips worth 1.78 billion yen for the fiscal year through March 2005.

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