Bureaucrats Nabbed for Fraud Falsely Claimed 2-M.-Yen Rent

Society

Tokyo, June 26 (Jiji Press)--Two Japanese industry ministry bureaucrats who allegedly cheated the government out of COVID-19 grant money had falsely reported that they were paying office rent of some 2 million yen per month when applying for the grant, investigative sources said Saturday.

Makoto Sakurai and Yutaro Arai, both 28 years old and working for the ministry's Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau, have been arrested by Tokyo police on suspicion of swindling the ministry out of some 5.5 million yen in rent subsidies provided to struggling small businesses and sole proprietors amid the pandemic.

The two men applied for the subsidies using rental agreement documents saying that their company had three offices and had been paying monthly rent totaling some 2 million yen, according to the sources.

But investigators found that the properties claimed to be the offices actually included Arai's house and the home of Sakurai's parents. The firm is believed to be a shell company with no real operations, and apparently there was no rent to be paid, according to the sources.

Sakurai lives in a high-rise condominium complex in a posh district in central Tokyo and owns at least two foreign cars and a luxury watch, the sources said. The police believe that another grant may have been swindled.

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