Ex-Bureaucrats Plead Guilty over Japan COVID-19 Aid Fraud
Tokyo, Oct. 11 (Jiji Press)--Two former Japanese industry ministry bureaucrats pleaded guilty on Monday to fraud charges related to government COVID-19 relief programs.
In the first hearing of their trial at Tokyo District Court, Makoto Sakurai and Yutaro Arai, both 28, admitted charges of cheating the government out of a total of some 15.5 million yen in benefits, including rent subsidies offered to sole proprietors and small businesses hit hard by the novel coronavirus crisis.
According to the indictment, the two former industry ministry officials applied for the rent relief program by submitting false documents, including rental contracts, to the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, which is affiliated with the ministry.
They received some 11.5 million yen under the program around January this year through bank accounts held in the names of two shell companies they founded.
They also allegedly swindled the government out of 4 million yen in subsidies aimed at helping smaller businesses that suffered sharp revenue declines, by filing false tax returns.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]