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Osaka tax authorities inspect school operator over alleged cryptocurrency scandal

OSAKA -- Tax authorities began an inspection on Sept. 10 of Meijo Gakuin Educational Corporation over massive amounts of funds that were allegedly misappropriated to buy cryptocurrency and remain unaccounted for.

The Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau also searched real estate brokerage company Sun Kikaku and other firms linked to the case.

The bureau apparently deemed it necessary to conduct inspections on these entities in order to ascertain whether taxes on the money have been evaded or if any assets belonging to the school operator have been concealed.

Meijo Gakuin, based in the Osaka Prefecture town of Kumatori, has declined to discuss the matter. "We can't make any comment because the person in charge is away," an official said.

Mainichi Shimbun reports exposed the series of money scandals involving Meijo Gakuin in July this year.

At the instruction of the 61-year-old then chairwoman of Meijo Gakuin, board members and others transferred 100 million yen set aside to cover the operations of Osaka University of Tourism that it operates to an affiliated company in April 2018, according to people knowledgeable of the scandals and officials of the school operator.

The 100 million yen was subsequently withdrawn and used to buy cryptocurrency, the sources said.

The cryptocurrency went public in March 2019, but its transaction price subsequently plummeted and is apparently almost valueless now, say the sources. The chairwoman of the school corporation stepped down this past June over the case.

Moreover, it later surfaced that a 2.1 billion yen deposit for the sale of land for Meijo Gakuin High School in Abeno Ward in the city of Osaka, which the corporation operates, remains unaccounted for.

The educational corporation signed a contract in July 2017 to sell part of the high school land to an Osaka-based real estate development company for approximately 3.2 billion yen. The 2.1 billion yen the school operator received from the realty developer was then deposited with Sun Kikaku headquartered in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, which brokered the deal.

Sun Kikaku was supposed to submit a statement on the outstanding balance of the deposit to Meijo Gakuin when the real estate broker settled its account. However, Sun Kikaku has yet to do so.

The money was remitted to a consulting company run by an acquaintance of the former Meijo Gakuin chairwoman immediately after being transferred to Sun Kikaku, according to the sources.

The consulting company head has told the Mainichi Shimbun that it transferred the money to another account at the instruction of the then chairwoman of the school corporation.

The money was meant to cover the cost of reconstruction of the high school building but the work is way behind schedule.

(Japanese original by Shiho Matsumoto, Takumi Fujikawa and Sakae Kato, Osaka City News Department)

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