Japan's Mizuho says top managers knew of mob loans
AFPTOKYO--The head of Japan's Mizuho Financial Group on Tuesday admitted top managers were aware of loans to gangsters three years ago, in an embarrassing about-face for the company.
October 9, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
Executives have been under fire since it emerged that Mizuho Bank, one of Japan's three biggest banks, had processed hundreds of transactions worth about 200 million yen (US$2 million) for “anti-social forces,” a common term for Japan's yakuza mobsters.
Senior figures, including the bank's one-time president Satoru Nishibori, had denied they knew anything about the payments, according to previous company statements.
But, on Tuesday, Mizuho Financial Group president Yasuhiro Sato admitted he and others had been appraised of the bank's dubious dealings with members of Japan's underworld.
A red-faced Sato told reporters Nishibori had now admitted knowing as far back as 2010 about loans to yakuza.
“I was also in a position to be aware of this problem,” he said, without elaborating.
“I can't help but say that levels of our recognition and sensitivity were low,” Sato said. “I don't think I'm not responsible.”
Sato said he would not be stepping down from his role at the helm of the huge financial group, but would be giving up his role on the government's council for industrial competitiveness.
The Financial Services Agency last month admonished the bank for taking “no substantial steps” in dealing with the issue of loans to the mob after it was first discovered two years ago, and pointed to “serious problems” with its compliance monitoring.
Sato's admission came as it emerged Mizuho FG was turning down an award it had been given for its record on information transparency.
“The company was praised for its attitude for proactively disclosing information that may not necessarily benefit the firm or even about the company's weak points,” the citation read.
The Securities Analysts Association of Japan said Monday it had been informed Mizuho would not be accepting their award, which it has won twice before.