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Woman: 5 cops involved in fraudulent sales scheme

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan/December 24, 2007

Yokohama - Five police officers from the Kanagawa prefectural police were involved in a company affiliated with Shinsekai, a pseudoreligious company that has been searched on suspicion of being involved in a fraudulent sales scheme, according to the president of the affiliate firm.

Sumio Yoshida, the prefectural police superintendent who was removed from his position as head of the police force's security division, is suspected of involvement in the scheme.

Akie Sugimoto, president of E2, an affiliate of Shinsekai based in Kai, Yamanashi Prefecture, held a press conference at its Vivid Tokyo Aoyama Salon in Tokyo's Akasaka district and said several Diet members and celebrities had visited the salon. She did not reveal their names.

Four Kanagawa prefectural police officers, including Yoshida, 51, are said to have been involved in the scheme. Sugimoto, admitting these allegations, said there was another police officer involved.

"In mid-October, another police officer visited the salon asking for advice as the officer was facing dismissal. So I held my hands over the officer to give 'reiko' [an inner light]," she said.

Sugimoto, 44, said Yoshida introduced the "healing salon" to the officer and that Yoshida was the only officer who helped in salon operations.

As for why the superintendent cosigned when Sugimoto leased a unit on the apartment building to open the salon, and rented another unit on the same building for the salon's office, Sugimoto said she had thought it would be easier to borrow money as Yoshida was a public employee.

"I asked him to do the firm's accounts, and paid him a total of 2.4 million yen--up to 200,000 yen a month for the work," Sugimoto said.

Admitting she had received a large amount of money from Yoshida, she said, "Before opening the salon, I borrowed 7 million yen from him for supporting my reiko activities," and that, "He gave me 4.3 million yen when I couldn't pay about 6 million yen in taxes."

However, Sugimoto denied Yoshida had been involved in soliciting people. "Mr. Yoshida usually didn't disclose his identity to customers, and I've never thought of using him for publicity," she said.

As for the salon's services, Sugimoto said, "We haven't tried to deceive people." While Sugimoto is suspected of swindling a 44-year-old business operator from Yokohama, out of 4.9 million yen, she denied criminal intent. Holding a document that says "letter of consent," Sugimoto said "I received the payment with the consent of both sides."

"But if he said he's been swindled of money, I feel sorry for him because it means I lacked a certain virtue," Sugimoto added.

Meanwhile, Shinsekai Yugen Kaisha issued a statement Sunday.

"As each firm affiliated with us operates under its own policies, we do not have a clear grasp of their operations. We'd like you to ask each firm directly on the issue," the statement read.

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