By The Financial District
80% Of Money In Japan COVID Benefit Fraud Taken By Ringleader Abroad
An investigator of a COVID fraud case that led to the arrest of seven men and women, including a Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau employee who swindled the government out of COVID benefits meant for hard-hit businesses, has said 80% of the money went to a 31-year-old leader who fled in February 2022 and purportedly hid in Dubai.
Photo Insert: The fraud case led to the arrest of seven men and women, including a Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau.
The group arranged to have university students and others fraudulently receive the payments under their names and explained that the money will be invested in the cryptocurrency-related business Mining Express, but their dividends have reportedly not been confirmed, the source told Hitomi Takai of Mainichi Japan.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)'s juvenile case division has been investigating the leader's whereabouts as well as the flow of the money. On June 2, the MPD referred two individuals, including Kohei Tsukamoto, 24, an employee of the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau's Tsurumi office, to prosecutors over the alleged fraud.
They were arrested on June 1 on suspicion of submitting to the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency tax return forms and other documents falsely claiming a decline in income due to the pandemic and defrauding the agency of 1 million yen (roughly $7,700) between July and August 2020.
The money was transferred to the bank account of a boy who was aged 17 at the time. The boy was referred on paper to prosecutors on suspicion of fraud. Tsukamoto, who is suspected to have created the false tax return forms, has remained silent during questioning.
On June 2, the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau released a comment saying, "We sincerely apologize for significantly damaging the public's trust toward official affairs. We will confirm the facts and take rigid measures."
Five other people aged between 21 and 27, including a former employee of the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, who was Tsukamoto's colleague, and a former employee of a major brokerage firm, have been arrested and indicted over the alleged fraud.
One of the individuals stated that the group arranged for 200 people to fraudulently receive COVID-19 benefits, and police suspect that they swindled a total of around 200 million yen, or about $1.5 million.
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