New facts have emerged around the three company executives arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of paying off witnesses in the ongoing IR corruption case involving House of Representatives member Tsukasa Akimoto and Chinese firm 500.com. The three company executives are Akihito Awaji, 54, of Tokyo’s Minato Ward, Fumihiko Sato, 50, of Chuo Ward, and Kazuhiro Miyatake, 49, of Naha.
At the trial, Akimoto stated that on the day money was allegedly handed over, he had not gone to the Diet Members’ building. Knowing this claim, Awaji instructed Sato to ask Akihiko Konno – a former advisor to 500.com who has been arrested for allegedly bribing Akimoto – to say he had not met Akimoto at the building. Some reports have included a video of the moment in which Sato is believed to have delivered cash to Konno. Akimoto is denying any involvement.
Awaji is a supporter of Akimoto and the former president of Yotsuba Holdings, a multi-level marketing company that dealt in a virtual currency called Clover Coins. The company was ordered to cease business by the Consumer Affairs Agency in October 2017 for violating the Specified Commercial Transactions Act, and victims have filed dozens of claims for damages.
Attorney Nobuo Gohara, who had been newly appointed to defend Akimoto, was interviewed in Tokyo on 6 August and announced he would have Akimoto acquitted. The following day he resigned, offering “differences of defense policy” as the reason.
According to some reports, Akimoto’s new lawyer is Junichiro Hironaka. Hironaka is known the “Innocence Contractor” and recently defended Carlos Ghosn – the former Nissan and Renault CEO currently on the run after fleeing Japan while facing charges of misappropriation of funds.