National / Crime & Legal

Scandal-hit lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto to be slapped with fresh warrant over Chinese bribes

JIJI

A fresh arrest warrant will be served for lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto on suspicion he received bribes from a Chinese company beyond those detailed in his first warrant, sources have said.

The special investigation team of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office plans to serve the warrant to Akimoto, 48, by Tuesday, when his detention period ends, informed sources said Friday.

The House of Representatives lawmaker was arrested last month for taking bribes from the company, 500.com Ltd., which planned to open a casino resort in Japan.

In December 2017, Akimoto inspected a casino facility in Macao and visited the Chinese company’s head office in Shenzhen, the sources said.

Akimoto is suspected of having 500.com cover his expenses for the trip.

The company asked Akimoto to give a speech at a symposium related to casino resorts it held in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, in August that year.

On learning that Akimoto would become state minister at the Cabinet Office and the land ministry and take charge of matters related to so-called integrated resorts a few days after the symposium, the company raised its speaking compensation for Akimoto to ¥2 million from the initially planned ¥500,000.

The special squad is continuing investigations on suspicion that the speaking fees also constituted bribery with expectations of favors for the company’s bid to enter the casino business in Japan, the sources said.

The first arrest warrant alleges that Akimoto received ¥3 million in cash from 500.com on Sept. 28, 2017, when the Lower House was dissolved.

He also got the company to cover about ¥700,000 in expenses for a family trip to the village of Rusutsu in Hokkaido, where the company planned to build an integrated resort, according to the warrant.

Akimoto denies the allegations. He quit the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on the day of his arrest.

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