Arrested lawmaker’s fingerprints found on bills offered as bribe | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19

Japanese prosecutors have found new fingerprint evidence suggesting that a lawmaker charged with accepting bribes over a proposed casino resort offered money to a person to falsely testify in court, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

The fingerprints of Tsukasa Akimoto, a 48-year-old House of Representative member once involved in crafting Japan’s policy for legalizing casino resorts, were detected on bills he allegedly handed out through an accomplice in order to bribe Masahiko Konno, a former adviser to a Chinese gambling operator.

Photo taken in Tokyo on Aug. 20, 2020, shows an office of Japanese lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto, which was searched by prosecutors the same day as he was served a fresh arrest warrant for allegedly offering to pay money to witnesses in reward for falsely testifying in court in connection with a bribery scandal. (Kyodo)

Akimoto, who has been indicted for receiving bribes from the operator 500.com Ltd., was served a fresh arrest warrant earlier in the week for attempting to tamper with testimony. He has denied all the allegations against him.

He was released on bail in February but was taken into custody again on Thursday. Working together with his supporters, Akimoto is suspected of asking Konno, who has been indicted on a bribery charge, to give false testimony in return for 30 million yen ($284,000) in June and July.

Of the 30 million yen, Akimoto, who left the Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shortly before his initial arrest in December, is believed to have prepared 10 million by himself and the fingerprints are regarded by the prosecutors as strong evidence of his involvement, according to the sources.

The trial for Konno, as well as another former adviser to the Chinese company, Katsunori Nakazato, both 48 year-old, is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

“If I could have met with the two defendants, I would not be found guilty,” one of the sources quoted Akimoto as telling people around him.

Akimoto was a senior vice minister in the Cabinet Office for about a year from September 2017. At that time his role was to oversee the ruling party’s initiative to legalize casinos at so-called integrated resorts.

Related coverage:

Japan lawmaker rearrested over casino graft scandal

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