• Kyodo

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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued a business improvement order Friday against Orient Corp. over shady loans extended to members of organized crime groups by Mizuho Bank via the consumer credit company.

The ministry urged Orient to compile measures to prevent recurrences, such as bolstering its screening to exclude mobsters from transactions and enhancing awareness among its employees.

The ministry, which supervises the consumer credit industry, handed a written reprimand to the top management of the company and ordered the firm to report its business improvement measures by Feb. 17.

The business improvement order was issued because METI “took seriously the company’s failure to take (necessary) steps although it was aware that its transactions highly likely involved ones with anti-social forces,” a ministry official said.

Orient, which announced in November pay cuts for its executives and measures to prevent further loans to yakuza, said in a statement that the company will further promote preventive measures to block relationships with organized crime groups.

The company said it will implement measures to screen on a regular basis whether its internal rules are being followed and consider appointing outside board members.

Mizuho extended loans to mobsters after Orient accepted applications and conducted screening. The bank failed to shut out gangsters from its transactions and left the matter unattended for more than two years despite its knowledge of the issue.

In September, the Financial Services Agency issued a business improvement order to the bank. Last month, the financial watchdog demanded that the bank halt fresh loans via credit firms for one month.

As part of disciplinary measures announced in November, President Masayuki Saito will forgo his pay for six months.

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