Switzerland, Japan split CHF 58 million of money-laundering funds
The funds are seized from a Japanese gangster who was convicted of money laundering three years ago.21 April 2008
BERN - Switzerland and Japan will share funds seized from a Japanese gangster convicted of money laundering three years ago, officials said Friday.
Some CHF 58.4 million from frozen bank accounts belonging to Susumu Kajiyama will be shared equally between the two countries, the Swiss Justice Ministry said.
The cooperation between Switzerland and Japan in the case of Kajiyama, whom it described as a leading member of the Goryo-kai crime syndicate, has been closed, the ministry said.
Japanese officials have said Kajiyama was affiliated with Japan's largest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi. Goryo-kai is an affiliate of Yamaguchi-gumi.
A Tokyo court in 2005 sentenced Kajiyama to seven years in prison and a 30 million yen (CHF 293, 000)) fine for loan-sharking and money laundering in a scheme involving Japan, Switzerland and Hong Kong.
Kajiyama, once known as Japan's "Loan Shark Czar," is believed to have helped haul in billions of yen a year by illegally charging borrowers exorbitant interest rates on loans.
Authorities in Japan, Switzerland and Hong Kong cooperated to trace the funds, which reportedly travelled through the Tokyo branch of the London-based Standard Chartered Bank and the Hong Kong branch of Zurich-based Credit Suisse.
The major part of the seized money worldwide in Kajiyama's case was in Swiss bank accounts, the Justice Ministry said. This led Japan to propose sharing the funds with Switzerland, it said.
The Swiss government this month approved an agreement reached between the two countries in November, according to the ministry.
Japan wants to use the money to compensate the victims of Kajiyama's crimes, it said.
[AP / Expatica]