National / Crime & Legal

Ringleader in bogus Tokyo land sale slapped with 12-year sentence

Kyodo

The man considered the ringleader of a 2017 bogus Tokyo land sale plot that targeted home builder Sekisui House Ltd. was sentenced by the Tokyo District Court to 12 years in prison on Tuesday.

Prosecutors had sought a 15-year prison term for Maiku Uchida, 66, who was charged with fraud and the use of falsified official documents, among other crimes.

“(Uchida) was the central figure in the group,” presiding Judge Toshikazu Ishida said in handing down the ruling.

According to the ruling, the scam group colluded to swindle the major home builder out of about ¥5.5 billion ($52 million) in a deal to sell a 2,000-square-meter plot of land in a top-rated location in Shinagawa Ward between March and June in 2017.

By using a fake passport, a female member of the group impersonated the owner of the land — the site of a now-closed inn — near JR Gotanda Station. The real owner was hospitalized in February 2017 and died in June that year.

Although the defense team had pleaded Uchida’s innocence, asserting that the transaction had “proceeded outside the accused’s knowledge,” Ishida recognized Uchida’s intent based on the testimonies of accomplices and other evidence.

“He acquired at least ¥115 million by actively playing an extremely important role for his own profit, while being aware it was identity fraud,” Ishida said.

As of late last year, 10 people had been indicted over the scam and six of them found guilty.

Earlier this month, Uchida was served a fresh arrest warrant on suspicion of defrauding a real estate company of ¥100 million in another scam involving a plot in Shibuya Ward, also in the capital.

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