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Japan band association brassed off after employees embezzle 152 mil. yen

All Japan Band Association chairman Akio Marutani, left, and deputy chairman Eiichi Murayama are seen apologizing at a press conference convened to announce the discovery of embezzlement at the association, on Jan. 27, 2020, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Buntaro Saito)

TOKYO -- An executive officer and his deputy at the All Japan Band Association, which organizes school band contests, embezzled some 152 million yen (around $1.4 million) over a 10-year period from fiscal 2010 to 2019, the association disclosed on Jan. 27.

The executive officer, in his 50s, and his deputy, who is in his 40s, reportedly padded salary and bonus payment remittances to embezzle the cash. They are alleged to have altered financial statements, and auditors didn't catch the changes. Both men have been fired.

Akio Marutani, chairman of the Tokyo-based association, apologized at a press conference, saying, "To all of the junior high, high school and university students involved in brass bands, and to everyone else, we have betrayed your trust and expectations."

According to the association, the payment of staff salaries and bonuses via bank transfers was solely the responsibility of the executive officer. He is alleged to have sent topped-up sums to his bank account and that of his deputy.

Although tax returns were filled out with the actually received amounts described, on company financial statements the originally intended sums were declared, and the additional amounts were filed under business spending.

In December 2019, a board member realized something was amiss, and established an investigative committee. The executive officer reportedly told the committee, "In 2010, the (then) chairman allowed me to do it," while the deputy officer is said to have denied misappropriating funds.

After Marutani and the former chairman disputed the accounts, the association discovered alterations to financial statements, and deemed that embezzlement had taken place.

The main source of the association's revenue is ticket sales from its band contests and other activities. It hosts All Japan Band Association contests for junior high, high school and university students from across the country.

(Japanese original by Buntaro Saito, City News Department)

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