Osaka Prefectural Police have requested financial institutions to freeze approximately 1,300 accounts misused by a group conducting a money laundering operation, investigative sources said Tuesday.

An individual said to be a key member of a group involved in the laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activities — 41-year-old Ryohei Fujii — has been arrested in connection with the scheme.

The group is said to operate by opening bank accounts under the names of shell companies. It is is believed to have managed around 4,000 accounts across roughly 500 of such companies.

The accounts targeted for freezing span approximately 130 financial institutions and were active at the time the scheme was uncovered.

Typically, such police requests are made on an individual basis. But in this case, the police have taken the unusual step of requesting a blanket freeze on all implicated accounts, according to the sources.

The criminal group consisted of eight companies based in Tokyo and Toyama Prefecture, including one by the name of Rivaton in the city of Toyama that Fujii effectively headed.

Between January and July last year, at least ¥70 billion ($450 million) in criminal proceeds were funneled into the accounts managed by the group under the pretense of operating a collection agency business.

Translated by The Japan Times