Sparks from the Akimoto IR bribery scandal have now spread to major IR operators. Local Japanese major media outlets NHK News Web, The Sankei News, The Nikkei and Kyodo News have all reported Friday morning that “the Japanese entity of a major IR company which is not 500.com” has been “raided” by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.
Sankei and Nikkei added that the Public Prosecutor considered the major IR company “a possible party to bribery,” while NHK stated the “major overseas operator was investigated as possibly related to the bribery case.”
IAG can now reveal that according to trusted sources, the major IR company in question is Macau’s Melco Resorts and Entertainment, and that their office was visited by Japanese authorities on 17 and 20 January. Documents were seized.
The Public Prosecutor is investigating details surrounding House of Representatives member, Tsukasa Akimoto, who was rearrested on 14 January on suspicion of accepting a bribe from Chinese corporation 500.com.
Akimoto visited the 500.com head office in Shenzhen and Macau in December 2017. Approximately JPY 1.5 million (US$13,700) in travel expenses are suspected of being paid by 500.com, and monetary bribes totalling around JPY 10 million (US$91,300) are also suspected. When Akimoto was in Macau, he visited at least one Melco casino.
Melco has shown keen interest in the IR business in Japan, establishing a Japanese local entity and offices in Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama and submitting IR concepts to multiple local municipalities as part of the IR application process.
NHK and Nikkei both reported that the major IR operator said, “We can’t comment on the investigation. Akimoto visited but nothing illegal occurred.” Sankei added that the operator admitted to Akimoto visiting their casino but that “no perks such as meals or accommodations or entertainment were provided and no benefits were received.”
The investigation is continuing with materials seized from Melco’s office now being studied by the Public Prosecutor.
According to his lawyer, Akimoto is denying any fraudulent wrongdoing.