Ex-adviser brought 20 mil. yen in cash to Japan in casino scandal

Tuesday 7th January 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A former adviser to a Chinese gambling operator involved in an alleged casino-bribery scandal is suspected to have brought more than 20 million yen ($207,000) in cash into Japan in violation of the foreign exchange law, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Masahiko Konno also allegedly gave 3 million yen to lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto, a former member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who was arrested in December on suspicion of receiving 3.7 million yen in bribes from the Shenzhen-based 500.com Ltd., the sources said.

Tokyo prosecutors suspect Konno, 48, took out 22.5 million yen from a bank account in Hong Kong on Sept. 28, 2017, then flew to Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture with the cash, they said.

He is also suspected of visiting Akimoto's parliamentary office in Tokyo later that day with Katsunori Nakazato, 47, who also served as an adviser to 500.com, apparently to give money for the lawmaker's campaign, according to the sources.

Prosecutors have been tracing the flow of money as Nakazato earlier told investigators he delivered around 1 million yen each to five lawmakers around the same time he handed the 3 million yen in cash to Akimoto -- a proponent of introducing casinos to Japan -- in September 2017.

The political funds control law prohibits political donations from foreigners or foreign organizations.

Japan recently legalized casinos, with the government planning to choose up to three locations for what it calls "integrated resorts" -- complexes that include casinos along with hotels and conference facilities.

Some of the five lawmakers belonged to a cross-party group of lawmakers who advocated promoting so-called integrated resort projects.

All but one, Mikio Shimoji, a member of the opposition Japan Innovation Party, have denied the allegations.

Shimoji admitted Monday that his office received 1 million yen for the 2017 election campaign from the Chinese company around Oct. 15, 2017.

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