Investor linked to casino resort project in Japan suspected of foreign exchange violations

Tuesday 17th December 2019

TOKYO -- An individual linked to a Chinese company that had been aiming to invest in an integrated resort (IR) project in Japan may have brought millions of yen into the country without notifying customs in an incident involving two former aides to a ruling party legislator, sources close to the case said.

The special investigation unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is apparently probing the flow of cash, suspecting that the money may have been illegally brought into Japan in connection with the IR project that includes a casino.

Prosecutors raided the homes of two former aides to Tsukasa Akimoto, 48, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislator, from Dec. 7 to 8 in connection with an incident in which an excessive amount of cash had been brought into Japan without notifying customs in advance in violation of the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act. The law requires those who intend to bring cash worth over 1 million yen into Japan from overseas to notify customs beforehand.

The Chinese company was founded in 2001 and is selling online games and sport lotteries, according to its official website. The company listed its stock on the New York Stock Exchange in November 2013. The firm is worth $404 million and has 385 employees.

The company opened a Japanese subsidiary in Tokyo in July 2017 to provide comprehensive consultations regarding the internet and other services.

The head of the Japanese subsidiary was present at a news conference, where a company in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido announced a plan to solicit businesses to open an IR in the prefectural village of Rusutsu. The subsidiary was aiming to invest in the project.

The head expressed his company's enthusiasm about the project. "We inspected other candidate sites, but we can build a new type of resort by taking advantage of the nature of Rusutsu," he told the news conference.

However, the plan never materialized as the Hokkaido Prefectural Government announced in November 2018 that it would make Tomakomai the sole candidate site in the prefecture for an IR.

Akimoto, a member of the House of Representatives, delivered a speech at a symposium held in Naha in the southernmost Japan prefecture of Okinawa in August 2017, in which the Chinese company announced its plan to invest in the prefecture with a view to entering the IR business. Akimoto was overseeing IR projects as state minister of Cabinet Office from August 2017 to this past September.

(Japanese original by Kazuhiro Toyama, Kim Suyeong and Kazuya Shimura, City News Department)

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