National / Crime & Legal

Ex-Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems executives convicted of bribes after company struck Japan's first plea bargain

Kyodo

A Tokyo court found two former executives of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems guilty of bribing a senior Thai official over a power plant project after the company struck a plea bargain — the nation’s first.

The Tokyo District Court on Friday gave suspended sentences of 18 months and 16 months to Fuyuhiko Nishikida, 63, and Yoshiki Tsuji, 57, respectively. The sentences were suspended for three years.

As evidence, the court adopted a plea bargain signed by prosecutors and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd. that shields the company from indictment in exchange for cooperation with the investigation and trial.

According to the ruling, the pair conspired with the project’s manager, Satoshi Uchida, 64, and paid 11 million baht(about ¥39 million) in February 2015 to a Thai official with the Ministry of Transport to receive favorable treatment when unloading cargo.

Thai authorities had told them the company failed to meet the conditions for cargo discharge.

The two men admitted to the accusations and their lawyers requested leniency, saying the executives were compelled to meet the demand from the Thai public servant and did not receive any personal gains from the bribe.

In handing down the ruling, Judge Tatsuya Tosuke said the two men, who were responsible for transporting equipment, decided to pay the bribe after checking with Uchida.

“The amount was large and it was an organized crime, involving many sections such as a sales department,” the judge said.

The lawyers have argued it was “not fair” that the three men were the only ones prosecuted. Uchida is also standing trial in a separate case.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power System became aware of the matter in March 2015 after being alerted by a whistleblower. It reported the issue to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office after an internal probe.

The Yokohama-based firm entered into a plea bargain agreement last June, shortly after the system was introduced.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5