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JAL paid 7 mil. yen yearly to another 'sokaiya' group

TOKYO, Aug. 18 Kyodo

Japan Airlines (JAL), suspected of making illegal payments totaling more than 20 million yen to a group of extortionists, made payments worth 7 million yen on an annual basis to another bunch of racketeers, police sources said Tuesday.

They said JAL is suspected of making the payments for about five years until earlier this month, to buy flowers from an unnamed Tokyo-based leasing company run by corporate extortionists, known as ''sokaiya'' in Japan.

The fresh flowers were displayed in places like JAL's waiting rooms at Narita airport, but JAL had terminated the contract by early this month when police began secret inquiries into its dealings with sokaiya, according to JAL sources.

The Commercial Code bans payments to sokaiya, who specialize in extorting money from companies.

JAL declared it had terminated its ties with extortionists in December last year, but police said they believe the case shows JAL continued its relations with sokaiya in various ways.

On Monday, Hitoshi Ogasawara, 51, a senior member of a sokaiya group called Morimoto Kigyo Chosa-Kai and also head of another crime syndicate, and Mamoru Arai, 53, president of another leasing company, Taihei, were arrested on suspicion of extorting more than 20 million yen from JAL as part of their deal with JAL.

Police are to forward to public prosecutors cases of three JAL officials, including a 59-year-old former director in charge of general affairs Wednesday.

According to police investigations, the leasing company was established in 1990, with its office set up at the house of a racketeer in Tokyo's Minato Ward.

The racketeer formerly belonged to a syndicated crime group but became independent after working under a senior extortionist, and did not hold any JAL shares, police said.

Police said they will not send the case to prosecutors because unlike the suspected illegal payments to the Taihei leasing company, totaling 80 million yen for ornamental plants worth only about 2.8 million yen, the price of the flowers cannot be said to be exorbitant.

JAL is Japan's largest airline with some 17,000 employees.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Article Type:Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Aug 24, 1998
Words:344
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