National / Crime & Legal

Three people plead guilty over fraudulent Tokyo land sale

Kyodo

Three people pleaded guilty Wednesday over a bogus land sale in Tokyo that targeted home builder Sekisui House Ltd. in 2017.

According to the indictment, the three colluded to swindle Sekisui House out of about ¥5.5 billion ($50 million) in a fraudulent deal to sell a plot of land in a prime location in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward. One of them, Masami Haketa, impersonated the owner of the land by using a fake passport.

The defense team for Haketa, 64, sought leniency during the trial at the Tokyo District Court.

“She didn’t know the whole picture and just followed what her accomplices told her,” Haketa’s lawyer said.

The other two defendants — Yoshihiro Tokoyoda, 67, and Koko Akiba, 75 — enlisted Haketa for the scheme and coached her on how to act like the female landowner.

The Metropolitan Police Department has arrested 17 people in connection with the scam, including the suspected mastermind, 59-year-old Misao Kaminsukasu, who has been indicted on charges including fraud. His trial has not yet started.