Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office indicts Tsukasa Akimoto for third time on additional bribery charges

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The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office indicted member of the House of Representatives, Tsukasa Akimoto, on Monday on additional bribery charges, alleging the equivalent of JPY 3.85 million in bribes from Chinese company 500.com, including a JPY 2 million wire transfer and travel expenses to Macau.

The indictment represents the third time Akimoto has been charged in relation to the bribery scandal that emerged late last year, with local Japan media outlets reporting the total value of bribes he is alleged to have received at JPY 7.6 million.

Akimoto, formerly with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was Vice-Minister in charge of IRs at the time.

Former policy secretary Akihiro Toyoshima has already been indicted on the same charges along with three employees of 500.com, including the company’s Japan advisors Masahiko Konno and Katsunori Nakazato.

The new charges cover casino chips allegedly provided at a Macau casino and expensive brand goods gifted by 500.com.

Akimoto has denied the allegations, stating, “I am not aware of any casino chips provided to me. I planned to purchase the brand goods myself, but the company ended up paying for it. I planned to return the hospitality at some point in time, so I don’t believe this is a bribe.”

Akimoto has denied all charges since his initial arrest on Christmas Day, when he was accused of receiving JPY 2 million on behalf of 500.com for delivering a keynote speech at a symposium in Naha City in August 2017, paid to him via a consultancy company established in Tokyo by the former policy secretary.

He was re-arrested on 14 January on suspicion of accepting another bribe from 500.com related to a December 2017 visit to the 500.com head office in Shenzhen and to Macau in December 2017.

The Chinese company was reportedly interested in developing an IR in either Okinawa or Hokkaido, although both cities have since withdrawn from Japan’s IR race.