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AIJ-linked pension manager accused of embezzlement arrested in Thailand

Yoshinobu Sakamoto
Yoshinobu Sakamoto

TOKYO (TR) – Immigration officials in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday arrested a former Japanese pension fund manager who had been on the run for more than three years for being in the country illegally, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Nov. 2).

Since 2010, Yoshinobu Sakamoto, 55, the former manager the Nagano Prefecture Construction Industry Welfare Pension Fund, had been wanted by the Nagano Prefectural Police in connection with the embezzlement of 2.38 billion yen from that fund.

According to TV Asahi (Nov. 1), the suspect, who had been staying in an apartment in west Bangkok, will be extradited to Japan next week.

Nagano police plan to arrest Sakamoto on embezzlement charges once he arrives. Police also intend to initiate a probe into losses in investments made into private equity and clarify how capital was allocated.

The Nagano Prefecture Construction Industry Welfare Pension Fund was one of the 84 clients of AIJ Investment Advisors, the firm at the center of a $2 billion fraud that came to light in 2012. The investment firm had been entrusted with more than 30 percent of the fund’s assets, or approximately 6.5 billion yen.

Sakamoto was first given control of the Nagano pension fund assets in 1989. Prior to his disappearance, he was in charge of overseeing more than 20 billion yen in funds entrusted by 6,800 people.

In early September 2010, Sakamoto told a colleague that he was going to Tokyo. He reportedly arrived in Bangkok on September 10, 2010. His entry visa was due to expire in March 2011.

The Nagano District Court ruled against Sakamoto on two occasions during his time on the run: On September 6, 2011, he was found liable for 20 billion yen in reparations to the Nagano pension fund, and seven months before that a similar ruling for 55.3 million yen was handed down.

The Nagano pension fund was been able to seize 50 million yen from Sakamoto’s life insurance plan and other assets.