National

Kepco says two execs in nuclear division pocketed bulk of ¥318 million from Takahama official

Kyodo

Kansai Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that among 20 staff who received benefits from a former official of a town hosting one of its nuclear plants, two executives responsible for the utility’s nuclear business were each given gifts valued at over ¥100 million.

The firm’s disclosure of additional information about the money scandal, said to involve more than a dozen officials, has re-exposed collusive ties between the nuclear industry and government officials.

Of the ¥318.45 million worth of gifts received by employees of Kansai Electric, the largest amount of ¥123.67 million was given to managing director Satoshi Suzuki, followed by ¥110.57 million for former deputy president Hideki Toyomatsu, the company revealed.

Toyomatsu used to be the head of the utility’s nuclear power division in Fukui Prefecture, where the town of Takahama is located, while Suzuki serves as acting chief of the division.

Speaking at the second news conference since the scandal came to light last week, President Shigeki Iwane and Chairman Makoto Yagi — who received ¥1.5 million and ¥8.59 million respectively — said they did not plan to step down from their posts at the company or business lobbies.

“It is my largest responsibility to exercise leadership together with (Iwane) and make the utmost effort in pursuing the cause,” Yagi said.

The two said they would decide what to do after seeing a report set to be compiled by an independent panel, which will be set up to investigate the scandal involving the officials at Kansai Electric and the late former deputy mayor of Takahama.

The company said the acceptance of gifts from Eiji Moriyama, who died at age 90 in March of this year, started in 2006 and continued until one month before his death.

The value of gifts received by Iwane and Yagi from Moriyama was disclosed in a report released by the company on Wednesday.

Kansai Electric has subjected Yagi and Toyomatsu to a 20 percent cut in remuneration for two months and Iwane to the same cut for one month.

The company also admitted that the gifts from Moriyama included funds in U.S. dollars, gold coins and gift coupons for tailored suits.

While the officials had returned or repaid most of them, ¥34.87 million worth of gifts still remain unreturned, it said.

The utility was criticized after its news conference last Friday for refusing to disclose details of the scandal.

An investigation by tax authorities found that Moriyama received a ¥300 million commission from a local construction company that was hired for projects at the Takahama nuclear complex, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Moriyama told authorities he had sent the gifts as a token of his appreciation for Kansai Electric’s support for the town, which is heavily dependent on the Takahama plant.

Money and goods returned by four individuals were found in Moriyama’s residence with a note from Kansai Electric confirming the return, the names of the individuals and the date.

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