KANAGAWA (TR) – A historic international club in Yokohama has revealed to members the loss of more than 25 million yen in an accounting scandal that may have included a faked death by a former employee.
In a letter dated April 28, Richard Gustafson, the president of the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club (YC&AC), told members that a criminal complaint had been filed by the club regarding former accountant Jiro Uchida, who went missing on April 20.
On that morning, Uchida went surfing but never returned home. “A subsequent search took place and his bicycle and beach sandals were discovered on a beach in Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture,” wrote Gustafson. “The police later reported that they believed he may have drowned while surfing.” (A news clip showing the search is included below.)
Such an assessment may have been premature.
“In parallel with the ongoing search,” the president continued, “we began a review of our accounts for the club.” Gustafson then explained that the examination revealed “audit certified bank balances were in fact incorrect.”
At a town hall meeting held on May 1 at the YC&AC, the president told approximately 50 members that Uchida may have played a role in the loss of approximately 27 million yen through various forgeries and fraud.
“Apparently, when they started looking through the books, the first evidence of forgery found was to the tune of around 9 million yen,” a member of the club told The Tokyo Reporter under the condition of anonymity. “That was in July. There were others.”
At the meeting, examples of forged documents were shown to members, the anonymous club insider added.
The police are now considering that Uchida faked his death and is on the run, according to the source, who said that his passport, health insurance card and driver’s license are missing. “So the sea hunt has turned into a land hunt,” the source said.
Founded in 1868, the club, located in the Yamate area, offers foreign and Japanese members access to athletic facilities, including a pool, tennis courts and a multi-purpose field, and two bars and a restaurant.
The anonymous source added that speculation is swirling throughout the club about whether Uchida had any accomplices.
At the meeting, Gustafson expressed to the club’s members that the extent of the damage is believed to be known.
“I would like all of you to know that there is no risk to the ongoing operations of our club and we are working quickly to address the issues that allowed this to occur,” the president wrote.
Update: A report from TBS News (linked below) showing the police search for Uchida says that he is 48 years old. He went surfing at approximately 6:00 a.m. on April 20. His wife reported him missing at 9:00 a.m. that same day after he did not return.