Two ex-advisers of Chinese gambling firm convicted of bribery

By Peter Lynch

Two former Chinese gambling operator advisers have been found guilty of bribing a Japanese lawmaker.

The Tokyo District Court has sentenced Masahiko Konno to two years in prison, and Katsunori Nakazato to one year and ten months. Both sentences have been suspended for three years.

The pair were charged with bribing Tsukasa Akimoto, a former member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in an attempt to lobby for a casino licence for their Chinese entity 500.com Ltd under the liberalised gambling laws in Japan.

Konno, 49, and Nakazato, 48, reportedly paid a total of 7.6 million yen ($72,000) in bribes between 2017 and 2018.

The bribery included travel expenses to China and Hokkaido, with Konno and Nakazato given information on gambling legislation in return.

The defendants’ lawyers pleaded for leniency on the grounds that 500.com Ltd had retracted its bid to enter the Japanese casino market, along with the suggestion that the bribery was not directly linked to the bid itself.

Presiding Judge Toshihiko Niwa said the duo “severely undermined the impartiality of duties and public trust in a large-scale project promoted by the government.”

Akimoto was also recently charged with offering money to both Konna and Nakazato in a bid to receive favourable false testimony.

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