Former Foreign Ministry official found guilty of fraud

The Tokyo District Court on March 12 sentenced a former Foreign Ministry official to 7.5 years in prison for swindling about 506 million yen (3.9 million dollars) out of the government.

Matsuo Katsutoshi, as the ministry's head of logistics for VIP visits abroad from December 1996 to June 1999, padded hotel expenses in connection with the prime minister's trips abroad and pocketed part of the money which was expended from the so-called secret funds of the Cabinet Secretariat.

The court ruling said that the system of the secret funds which required no approvals by superiors or receipts helped Matsuo commit fraudulant actions with ease.

Akahata on March 13 said that Matsuo's crime is only the tip of the iceberg.

Based on an internal document of the Cabinet Secretariat, the Japanese Communist Party in the Diet claimed that about 2 billion yen (about 15 million dollars) a year is handed from the Cabinet Secretariat to the Prime Minister's Official Residence as secret funds, and how the money was spent is kept from the public.

Enormous sums are expended without receipts from the secret funds to be given to politicians and bureaucrats to wine and dine each other at exclusive restaurants, and as parting gifts for their trips abroad.

All the facts about the secret funds must be made clear so that similar crimes won't be committed, said Akahata. (end)