As senior members of a scandal-tainted Liberal Democratic Party faction stuck to a defensive stance in their testimony in front of the Lower House ethics committee Friday, the assembly descended into chaos over the schedule for budget approval.

After Ryota Takeda, a former secretary-general of the faction once led by former LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, dismissed accusations about any meddling in his faction’s finances in his testimony Thursday, two former members of the leadership of the faction previously led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied any direct involvement in the kickback scheme at the center of a recent slush fund scandal.

Former economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who served as the latter group’s secretary-general for 10 months until August 2022, told the committee that the practice of returning portions of the income collected through fundraising parties to individual lawmakers was solely handled by the faction chairman and an administrative secretary.