• Kyodo

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The Tokyo District Court has ordered officials of a Las Vegas investment firm to pay ¥680 million in damages over a ¥130 billion investment scam that targeted thousands of Japanese.

In handing down the ruling Monday, presiding Judge Saneyuki Yoshimura said that Junzo Suzuki, 68, who was responsible for MRI International Inc.’s office in Japan, his 67-year-old wife and their 39-year-old son, Paul Suzuki, fraudulently solicited funds.

The lawsuit was filed by 39 clients of MRI International, who argued that the three officials collected money even though they knew the company had no intention of using the funds for asset management.

The plaintiffs had sought ¥800 million in compensation.

According to the ruling, the three officials were told by MRI’s head office in April 2012 that newly invested funds would not go toward the purchase of assets but would be used for the payment of principal and interest to people who had already invested money.

The three officials continued to solicit funds in magazines and seminars, describing the investment as “safe.”

The district court said the ¥680 million in compensation should go to 35 of the 39 plaintiffs as the four others had invested funds before April 2012.

During the trial, the three insisted they were not aware that the funds would be used for purposes other than asset management.

A group of lawyers representing the plaintiffs released a statement saying the three played a “core role in selling fraudulent products in our country” and that the court ruling “accepted nearly all of the arguments” made by the group.

According to the group, MRI International collected about ¥130 billion from around 8,700 people in Japan. The matter came to light in 2013.

Junzo Suzuki, who was MRI International’s executive vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, and Paul Suzuki, the company’s general manager for Japan operations, have been indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for their roles in the alleged Ponzi scheme.

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