• Kyodo

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Hirohide Uozumi, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, is suspected of pressuring government officials to give a group in Fukuoka Prefecture nonprofit status while his office was getting 2.5 million yen from the group, police said Tuesday.

Uozumi repeatedly asked the Cabinet Office this spring to certify as a nonprofit organization World Business Expert Forum, an organization associated with scandal-hit FAC Co., according to police.

WBEF put payments totaling 2.5 million yen in his office’s bank account between April and May for tickets to a fundraising party, they said.

FAC, an asset management consulting company in Fukuoka Prefecture, is under investigation for allegedly engaging in illegal practices to get investments.

WBEF’s NPO application was filed with the Cabinet Office in December and was rejected in June.

The same month, the police searched FAC on suspicion it had lied to get people to invest in the firm, saying investors would get a 5 percent monthly return. Police believe the company collected 13 billion yen from about 8,000 people.

WBEF had held seminars for entrepreneurs to get them to invest in FAC.

The Cabinet Office declined to comment on the case, while Uozumi’s office in Kikuchi, Kumamoto Prefecture, denied any links to WBEF.

Uozumi, who is in his second term in the House of Councilors after serving two terms in the House of Representatives, filed for personal bankruptcy in 2004 with 5 billion yen in debts.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told a news conference he did not receive any reports about Uozumi’s case. But he stressed that lawmakers should not get involved in any acts that could cause the public to lose trust in them.

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