In Japan and prominent politician Tsukasa Akimoto has reportedly been indicted on fresh charges that he may have accepted bribes totalling up to ¥7.2 million ($65,370) from Chinese sports lottery firm 500.com.
According to a story from GGRAsia citing an earlier report from Kyodo News, Akimoto is a member of the Asian nation’s House of Representatives and had been serving in the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
GGRAsia reported that the 48-year-old legislator was arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office on Christmas Day amid claims that he had illicitly taken approximately ¥3 million ($27,200) from Shenzhen-headquartered 500.com so as to help smooth the firm’s path towards receiving a license to bring an integrated casino resort to either Hokkaido or Okinawa. This original indictment was purportedly due to expire later today, which is said to have prompted local law enforcement officials to reissue the action complete with additional charges relating to alleged bribes worth up to another ¥4.2 million ($38,170).
Akimoto is a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and was reportedly initially suspected of illegally accepting ¥3 million from 500.com on September 28, 2017, which is the day Japan announced that it would be holding a snap general election. However, prosecutors now purportedly allege that the legislator may have illicitly received a further ¥2 million ($18,180) from the Chinese firm alongside ¥700,000 ($6,360) to help pay for a February of 2018 family trip to Hokkaido.
Akimoto, who has continually maintained that he is innocent of any wrongdoing, has moreover now been charged by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office over allegations that he accepted a payment worth about ¥1.5 million ($13,630) so as to enable him to travel to 500.com’s Guangdong Province headquarters in 2017.
For its part, Inside Asian Gaming reported that the new charges will see Akimoto remain in detention while Japanese law enforcement officials are thought to suspect that 500.com may have also helped to pay for the lawmaker to travel to the casino-laden city of Macau.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office has furthermore reportedly charged Akimoto’s former secretary alongside three others encompassing past 500.com advisors Katsunori Nakazato and Masahiko Konno as well as previous company executive Zheng Xi with participating in the bribery scheme while continuing to investigate the possible involvement of House of Representatives members Takeshi Iwaya, Mikio Shimoji, Masahisa Miyazaki, Toshimitsu Funahashi and Hiroyuki Nakamura.