The arrest of Mr. Shigetake Ogata, former head of the Public Safety Intelligence Agency, on suspicion of fraud in connection with an unsuccessful attempt to buy the headquarters of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents of Japan (Chongryun) begs the question “why?” — if prosecutors’ allegations are correct. He served as chief prosecutor in the Sendai and Hiroshima High Public Prosecutor’s Offices before becoming chief of the agency, which monitors groups regarded by the government as subversive, including Chongryun. After retiring, he became a lawyer. His arrest betrays the public’s trust in lawyers.

From the first, mystery has surrounded the failed purchase of the Chongryun properties. On May 31, the properties’ ownership was transferred to an investment advisory firm headed by Mr. Ogata, even though no payments had been made to Chongryun. Mr. Koken Tsuchiya, former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, represented Chongryun and was involved in the ownership transfer. Why did Mr. Tsuchiya transfer the ownership before receiving the money?

Mr. Ogata explained that he had pushed the 3.5 billion yen deal so that Chongryun, which faced seizure of its headquarters by the Resolution and Collection Corp., could continue to operate and help Pyongyang-affiliated Koreans in Japan. The RCC, a governmental debt-collection body, had bought 62.7 billion yen nonperforming loans made to Chongryun by 16 pro-Pyongyang failed credit associations.

Now it is suspected that Mr. Ogata and two accomplices never had any intention of paying the 3.5 billion yen to Chongryun. Prosecutors allege that Mr. Ogata and the two others lied to Mr. Tsuchiya and others when they said that an investor was ready to pay the money after the transfer of ownership. Prosecutors also do not rule out the possibility that the trio planned to swindle 480 million yen out of Chongryun as a brokerage fee for the deal.

It is hoped that prosecutors will do their best to get a total picture of the suspected fraud, and that lawyers will strictly watch their own behavior in deals of this sort.

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