Akira Shinozuka, former head of the Tokyo branch of Kimura Construction Co. and a key figure in the building safety scandal centered on disgraced architect Hidetsugu Aneha, pleaded not guilty Monday to falsifying financial documents in 2004 to win public construction contracts.

“I am not aware of the window-dressing and I don’t know anything about it,” Shinozuka, 45, said during the trial’s first session at the Tokyo District Court.

Prosecutors said the one-time executive at the company, based in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture, falsified the company’s financial statement in June 2004 to show that the company had a net worth of 400 million yen, although its liabilities actually exceeded its assets by 1.3 billion yen.

Prosecutors also alleged that Kimura Construction began falsifying financial documents as early as 1997.

Under the construction industry law, contractors engaged in public works must present financial statements to the supervising agency or ministry for assessment.

Contractors are then ranked by financial status and assigned projects accordingly.

Prosecutors seized Kimura Construction’s books and management reports during a search of the company’s office last December, prior to Shinozuka’s arrest in April.

Shinozuka has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying he never doctored the company’s accounts.

His lawyers also questioned the arrest at Monday’s session, saying Kimura Construction President Moriyoshi Kimura acted alone in the window-dressing scheme.

They added the arrest was “unreasonable,” because the charges were unrelated to the Aneha scandal.

The scandal broke when Aneha admitted in November that he had falsified quake-resistance data on scores of building projects around the country.

Kimura Construction was involved in building more than half of the 98 structures in 18 prefectures based on the faked data.

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