Chinese Firm May Have Approached Japanese Lawmaker for Turnaround

Society

Tokyo, Dec. 28 (Jiji Press)--A Chinese company suspected of bribing Japanese House of Representatives member Tsukasa Akimoto may have approached him in a bid to turn itself around through casino operations in Japan, informed sources said Saturday.

The Shenzhen-based online sports lottery provider, 500.com, saw its sales tumble after peaking in 2014, according to sources familiar with the situation and a private credit research agency.

The company, founded in 2001, logged record sales of 9.4 billion yen in 2014, a year after its stock listing on the New York Stock Exchange. But its sales plunged to 1.6 billion yen in 2015 and to 170 million in 2016, leaving an operating loss of 5.8 billion yen.

The Chinese company set up a Japanese unit in July 2017. It organized a casino-related symposium in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, southernmost Japan, in August the same year to increase its name recognition, where Akimoto was asked to give a keynote speech.

The company initially planned to pay Akimoto 500,000 yen for the speech. But it raised the amount to 2 million yen after learning, three days after the speech, that Akimoto would became state minister in charge of a government plan to introduce casinos in the country.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press