• Kyodo


The president and a former employee of failed travel agency Tellmeclub, which offered budget overseas tours, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to defrauding two banks of about ¥550 million ($5 million) in loans by window-dressing earnings data.

“(The allegations are) all correct. I’m very sorry,” the president, Chikako Yamada, said at the first hearing of their trial at the Tokyo District Court.

Prosecutors pointed out that the Tokyo-based tour agency started to forge earnings statements around 2005 to make its performance look better and become an official agency for an airline.

According to the indictment, Yamada, 67, and her former subordinate Toshiyuki Sasai, 37, are suspected of swindling Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. out of ¥394 million between June and December 2016 and Higashi-Nippon Bank out of ¥150 million in February last year after showing them financial statements for the firm that featured fictitious profits.

Yamada is also alleged to have concealed up to around ¥10 million in executive compensation when filing for personal bankruptcy with the court.

Tellmeclub went bankrupt in March last year with debts of some ¥15.1 billion after collecting roughly ¥9.9 billion in advance payments from between 80,000 to 90,000 customers across the country.