Business / Corporate

Suruga Bank says fraudulent housing loans could top ¥1 trillion

Kyodo, JIJI

Suruga Bank said Wednesday it has extended over ¥1 trillion ($9.1 billion) in confirmed and suspected fraudulent housing loans.

In an attempt to restore trust among investors and clients following revelations last year of a spate of financing scandals, the regional lender also said it will form a business tie-up with Tokyo-based Shinsei Bank in the field of personal loans, among other services.

The bank based in Shizuoka Prefecture asked an outside lawyer in October to conduct full-fledged investigations into its loans provided for the purchase of investment real estate after it admitted to falsifying documents to smooth the process of examining customers’ repayment abilities.

About 38,000 properties, including “share houses,” where bathrooms, kitchens and other facilities are used in common by tenants, were subject to the probe. The lawyer’s team concluded that about 60 percent of the combined balance of the loans, worth ¥1.8 trillion, is suspected to be fraudulent.

“I sincerely apologize that so many cases of wrongdoing have been found,” Suruga Bank President Michio Arikuni said at a news conference in the city of Numazu.

In addition to Shinsei Bank, the regional bank has decided to form a business alliance with electronics retailer Nojima Corp., seeking to jointly carry out credit card services.

Suruga Bank is expected to consider capital alliances with the two partners, aiming to overhaul its business model that has heavily relied on loans for real estate investment.

Arikuni said Suruga Bank is open to building business partnerships with other companies.

In the business year ended in March, the bank said Wednesday it incurred a group net loss of ¥97.15 billion, the first annual red ink in 17 years, compared with the previous year’s profit of ¥6.99 billion. For the current fiscal year, the bank expects to post a net profit of ¥10.5 billion.