OSAKA -- A probe into 318.45 million yen in cash and valuables that executives of Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) and others received in a payoff scandal has found that two construction firms directly handed around 4 million yen worth of cash and other items to the firm's former president and two other managing executives.
Yoshida Kaihatsu and another company handled construction projects for KEPCO, and the latest finding raises suspicions that money the power company spent on nuclear power plant construction orders was directly funneled back to executives of the firm.
It has already emerged that Yoshida Kaihatsu gave some 300 million yen to Eiji Moriyama, the late former deputy mayor of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast. Takahama hosts the Takahama Nuclear Power Station operated by KEPCO.
Moriyama, in turn, handed a huge amount of cash and other items to 20 people including KEPCO's managing executive officer Satoshi Suzuki and former deputy president Hideki Toyomatsu, the power company has admitted.
In its latest admission, KEPCO said that managing executive officer Shigeki Otsuka received 1 million yen in cash and 400,000 yen worth of gift certificates from Yoshida Kaihatsu, while Toyomatsu and Suzuki received a combined 2.5 million yen worth of vouchers for tailored suits from the other company.
Suzuki, who received 2 million yen worth of suit vouchers used all of them and hasn't returned the amount, while the other two are said to have returned the gifts between 2016 and this year.
In the handouts distributed at a news conference on Oct. 2, KEPCO had said that the gifts to executives from the firm had come from "Mr. Moriyama and others," but did not explain that some of them came from contractors. Later the same night it supplied the name of only one of the contractors, Yoshida Kaihatsu. It has not named the other company on the grounds that it would "cause trouble."
In the payoff scandal, suspicions had already arisen that money KEPCO spent on construction project orders was funneled back to KEPCO executives via Moriyama, but the company has maintained that the source of the money and other gifts that Moriyama provided is unclear. Then again, with the finding that executives received gifts directly from the construction firms, suspicions have deepened that part of the construction cost was being funneled directly to KEPCO executives and others.
(Japanese original by Yuhi Sugiyama, Osaka Business News Department)