National

Kepco shared contract details of 83 nuclear-related projects with Takahama's deputy mayor

Kyodo

Kansai Electric Power Co. gave information to the ex-deputy mayor of a town hosting one of its nuclear plants regarding 83 of the 113 orders won by a construction firm linked to him, a probe report by the utility showed Friday.

Information for the projects related to the nuclear power business was provided to Eiji Moriyama, who died in March at age 90, from September 2014 to December 2017, according to the report on the scandal that involves 20 Kepco officials who received large sums of money and gifts from the late politician.

The utility, which operates the nuclear complex in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, has disclosed that the officials were given about ¥320 million in gifts since 2006 by Moriyama, who also served as an adviser to a Kepco subsidiary for more than 30 years.

Industry minister Isshu Sugawara told a news conference that other electric power and utility-related companies have conducted in-house probes to determine whether similar cases have occurred. Eight of the 12 companies that conducted the probes said they have found no such cases.

The remaining four, including Kyushu Electric Power Co., are still conducting investigations. Sugawara didn’t disclose the names of the three other firms.

“Utility firms are receiving electricity fees from people and they are similar to a tax,” Sugawara said, adding that the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry demanded such companies ensured compliance.

According to the report, at Kepco’s Kyoto branch the construction company, Yoshida Kaihatsu, directly received orders for eight projects without tendering a bid during the same period.

Tax authorities have found that from fiscal 2013 to 2018, orders placed by Osaka-based Kepco with Yoshida Kaihatsu totaled some ¥6.47 billion. They also found that the construction firm paid around ¥300 million in commission to Moriyama.

The utility’s nuclear power division placed 22 orders directly with Yoshida Kaihatsu from September 2014 to December 2017 and provided information in about 16 of them, the report said.

In addition, Moriyama received information on 67 of the 91 projects placed with Yoshida Kaihatsu through prime contractors, it said.

When Moriyama asked to meet Kepco officials, the company confirmed whether there was information to be provided, the report said, adding that the information given to him included the size and cost of projects.

The utility “was not aware that Mr. Moriyama was bringing money and goods in return for information,” the report said.

From 2016 to 2017, Yoshida Kaihatsu gave ¥1 million in cash and ¥400,000 in gift certificates to Shigeki Otsuka, who was then a senior official of the utility’s nuclear power division. Otsuka has returned the money and gift certificates, the company said.

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