KOBE -- A probable suicide note was discovered at the residence here of a late Finance Ministry official belonging to a department involved in the scandal-hit government land sale to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, investigative sources have disclosed.
According to the sources, the man belonged to the ministry's Kinki Local Finance Bureau division that handled the sale. He was discovered dead at his Kobe home on March 7 in an apparent suicide.
The reason behind the man's suicide as well as his level of involvement in the scandal rocking the Finance Ministry is unknown. However, he took a long leave of absence due to illness beginning in fall 2017, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The government-owned lot in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, was sold to Moritomo Gakuen for 134 million yen in June 2016, roughly 800 million yen less than the land's appraised value. At the time of the sale, the man was a senior director for government assets at the Kinki bureau, working under the general director for government assets who negotiated with the private school operator.
The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office is investigating the land deal after accepting complaints of suspected breach of trust and other claims. Meanwhile, allegations emerged in early March that the Kinki bureau documents on the sale's approval had been altered.