Prison terms for a Japanese couple at the center of a cronyism scandal linked to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are set to be finalized after the Supreme Court dismissed their appeals against convictions for fraud in connection with the construction of an elementary school.

The court decision dated Tuesday upheld an Osaka High Court ruling in April that imposed prison terms of five years on Yasunori Kagoike, former head of school operator Moritomo Gakuen, and two years and six months on his wife, Junko, for defrauding the central and local governments of subsidies for construction of an elementary school.

The high court ruled that 69-year-old Kagoike and his wife, 66, illegally received ¥56.44 million ($429,000) in central government subsidies between 2016 and 2017 by overcharging for the construction of an elementary school in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, on land purchased from the government.

They were also found to have unlawfully received around ¥120 million in subsidies from the prefecture and the city of Osaka between 2011 and 2017 by inflating the number of teachers at their preschool.

The couple were arrested in July 2017 after the nationalist school operator was revealed to have purchased the state-owned land valued at ¥956 million in Toyonaka the previous year for ¥134 million to construct the school.

The heavily discounted land sale to a private school operator sparked cronyism allegations as Abe's wife, Akie, was an acquaintance of the couple, and was subsequently named honorary principal of the elementary school. She quit the post in the wake of the scandal.

The Osaka District Court in February 2020 sentenced Kagoike to five years but gave his wife three years, suspended for five years, deeming she was unaware of the false applications for local subsidies. The high court, however, ruled she was also aware of the false claims.