MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) The Miyazaki District Court on Friday sentenced former Miyazaki Gov. Tadahiro Ando to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered him to pay ¥20 million for taking bribes and being involved in bid-rigging for public work projects.

The prison sentence is thought to be the heaviest meted out to a governor found guilty of corruption since World War II. Ando, 68, had consistently pleaded not guilty to the charges, including to receiving cash from a company seeking orders from the prefecture and playing a leading role in bid-rigging.

Prosecutors had demanded a 4 1/2-year sentence and a forfeit of ¥20 million, saying Ando was “desperate to hold onto power in the prefectural administration” and “took the initiative in such collusive bidding cases initiated by public-sector officials in return for bribes.”

Ando’s counsel argued that he was “used as a tool by people with vested interests” and was “falsely charged with a crime as if he was the key figure in bribery and bid-rigging.”

According to the court, Ando received ¥20 million in bribes in July 2003 from Yoshifumi Nihongi, then president of Yamato Engineering Inc., a Tokyo-based architectural design company, in exchange for favorable treatment for Yamato regarding prefectural public works contracts.

Ando also asked Nihongi to provide about ¥10 million to a former secretary of a Diet member from October 2003 to May 2005.

He also instructed prefectural officials to award bridge design contracts to Yamato Engineering in bidding for public tenders on three occasions from 2005 to 2006.

Ando was arrested in December 2006, four days after his resignation.

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