• Kyodo

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The father of slain Tokyo bar hostess Lucie Blackman said Tuesday he has done nothing wrong amid claims that money has “gone missing” from the trust set up in his daughter’s name.

A former employee of the Lucie Blackman Trust, who was fired in March, alleges that she was concerned about money contributed by members of the public disappearing even though Blackman told her not to worry about it.

Police are now investigating the alleged financial irregularities, which are thought to involve around $3,600.

“Following an inquiry from Hampshire Police, an internal investigation was conducted into the allegations of financial discrepancies,” Blackman said in a released statement. “Following that, we have concluded there is no case to answer. We welcome any police inquiry to clarify this fact and to ensure the trust is cleared of these claims.”

Trust spokesman Matt Searle blamed the confusion on “accounting errors” and stressed that no money was missing.

It is believed the discrepancies arose after credit card companies retained handling and processing charges when the trust sold some items, and these fees were not accounted for in the books.

British media have continued to be highly critical of Blackman’s decision to accept a $900,000 condolence payment from a friend of convicted serial rapist Joji Obara, who was acquitted last week by a Tokyo court of any involvement in Lucie Blackman’s 2000 slaying.

Blackman’s ex-wife, Jane Steare, condemned the move, saying it weakened the prosecution’s case. But Blackman and another daughter, Sophie, claimed it had no bearing on the verdict.

The court decided there was insufficient evidence linking Obara and Lucie Blackman.

Steare also said Blackman had no right to accept the payment as she was the sole executor of Lucie’s estate and has asked the police to investigate the matter. Blackman’s camp, however, believes that accepting the condolence cash was perfectly legitimate and did not require Steare’s authorization.

One newspaper over the weekend reported that Blackman’s boat-charter company purchased a $110,000 yacht just two months after the condolence money was handed over.

Trust spokesman Searle denied that any of the condolence money was used to pay for the yacht.

He said it had always been agreed that the money from Obara’s associate would go to the trust, as well as Sophie Blackman and her brother, Rupert.

Searle said at least $100,000 had been given to the trust and he did not rule out the prospect of more money being contributed should the need arise.

He admitted recent events have put a strain on Blackman and all of the staff at the trust, which was set up by Blackman to promote personal safety among young people.

“It has been a fraught and difficult time with a lot of allegations flying around,” Searle said.

Prosecutors on Tuesday appealed last week’s Tokyo District Court acquittal of Obara, 54, on all charges involving the death of Lucie Blackman despite compelling circumstantial evidence.

Obara was, however, sentenced to life for raping nine other women, including one who died. He has appealed that verdict.

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