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Japanese lawmaker to serve four years in prison for casino bribe case

Tsukasa Akimoto, a Japanese lawmaker, was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay 7.6m yen ($69,000) in fines for accepting bribes and witness tampering in a casino-development project.

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The former ruling Liberal Democratic Party member, Akimoto was found guilty of receiving bribes worth 7.6m yen between September 2017 and February 2018. The lawmaker was also found guilty of offering money to two former advisers to the Chinese firm 500.com in exchange for false court testimony favourable to him.

It’s uncommon for a lawmaker to be given a prison sentence without suspension, but Akimoto’s actions were described as an “unprecedented obstruction of justice.”

Akimoto denied receiving the bribes and insisted he wanted the former advisers to the Chinese firm to only tell the truth in court.

Akimoto’s claim of innocence was dismissed by Presiding Judge Toshihiko Niwa, who mentioned: "Statements of those who admitted to providing cash were fully credible as they were strongly supported by objective evidence."

Akimoto’s former state-paid secretary, Akihiro Toyoshima (who also pleaded not guilty), was sentenced to two years in prison on graft charges.

In the bribery case, four more people were found guilty of giving money to Akimoto and another four were convicted for collaborating with him in the witness tampering case.

During his time as a Senior Vice Minister in the Cabinet Office (for about a year from September 2017), Akimoto’s role was overseeing the Government’s program of legalising the operation of casinos at integrated resorts, with hotels and conferences facilities.


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