Ldp Lawmaker Admits Donation From Company Tied To 500.com

LDP lawmaker admits donation from company tied to 500.com

A ruling party lawmaker has admitted to receiving a donation of 1 million yen ($9,200) from an executive of a Sapporo tourism company that has been linked with a suspected bribe-offering Chinese company.

However, Toshimitsu Funahashi, a 59-year-old Lower House member of the Liberal Democratic Party, denied accepting any money from the Chinese company, 500.com.

"While I did receive the 1-million-yen donation in a period just before the Lower House election, I have never received even 1 yen from anyone involved with a Chinese company," Funahashi said in a statement released on Jan. 8.

The statement said the donation was received in late September 2017.

Three people connected with 500.com were arrested on Dec. 25 on suspicion of giving bribes to lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto concerning the company’s plans to operate a casino in Japan as part of an integrated resort.

Akimoto left the LDP after he was arrested on the same day on suspicion of receiving about 3.7 million yen in bribes. He has denied the allegations.

One of the individuals arrested was Katsunori Nakazato, a former member of the Urasoe city assembly in Okinawa Prefecture who served as an adviser to 500.com. According to sources, Nakazato named five lawmakers as also receiving money from the Chinese company.

Four of the lawmakers, including Funahashi, belong to the LDP and have all denied receiving money from individuals tied to 500.com.

But the remaining lawmaker, Mikio Shimoji, has admitted to receiving money from another adviser to 500.com. Shimoji has since submitted his resignation to the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party).

Funahashi on Jan. 7 revised the political fund report for 2017 for the LDP branch that he heads to include an item indicating the branch received 1 million yen on Oct. 4, 2017, from an executive of the Sapporo-based tourism company.

The company had been in consultation with 500.com over the opening of a casino-resort in Rusutsu, Hokkaido.

Funahashi was elected from the Hokkaido bloc of the proportional representation constituency.

He also deducted 1 million yen from the 5 million yen in loans he earlier reported as having made to the branch.

Regarding why he made the belated revisions, Funahashi explained that when he gave the 1-million-yen donation to an office staff member, he also handed over 4 million yen he intended as a personal loan to the party branch.

The lawmaker said the staff member mistakenly considered the entire 5 million yen as a loan from Funahashi and made an erroneous entry into the political fund report.

While Funahashi has denied receiving money from 500.com, he did acknowledge that a supporter introduced him to several Japanese with ties to 500.com in late September 2017. But he said he never considered them as being directly involved in the Chinese company.

The Political Fund Control Law bans donations from foreigners or foreign companies.