Stuffed animal company executives sentenced for Tokyo 2020 bribes

Tokyo, Jun 6 (EFE).- Japanese courts handed down a new sentence Tuesday related to a bribery case at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games involving several executives of a stuffed animal company that manufactured pet products.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced the former firm President Sun Arrow Taiji Sekiguchi, 50, and his father and former company executive Yoshihiro Sekiguchi, 75, to one year in prison for paying about JPY 2 million ($ 1,349) to a member of the organizing committee in relation to merchandising.

None will go to jail, as the prison term has been suspended to three years of probation, according to details of the sentence published by the local Kyodo news agency.

The Sekiguchi are part of the 15 people charged to date in the investigation of bribes that executives of various companies allegedly paid to Haruyuki Takahashi, 79, a member of the organizing committee of the Tokyo Games, to obtain sponsorship contracts and other licenses linked to the event.

Five of them have been found guilty, including a former president of the well-known Japanese chain of Aoki suit stores, an official sponsor in charge, among other things, of the uniforms for the games’ staff.

Sun Arrow sold officially licensed plush toys of the mascots of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Miraitowa and Someity.

The company is well known nationally for its plush characters from Studio Ghibli animation studio movies, and also sold merchandise of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics mascot, among others.

In today’s ruling, Judge Yasuaki Takahashi said the firm’s executives asked Takahashi for favors, including the granting of the license, and that in exchange they paid him 1.5 percent of the total sales of the products marketed under the same.

The chamber decided to commute the prison sentence to probation considering that both admitted the charges and showed remorse for their actions, he said.

The prosecution had asked for a year in prison.

The investigation into this alleged bribery network came to light after the detection of the receipt of alleged bribes by Takahashi, the central figure in the plot, who consistently denied having received fraudulent payments, saying the amounts received were payments for consulting services.

Added to the bribes is the alleged rigging of the bids for the organization of the trial competitions of the Olympics events held a few months before to test the facilities and staff, and that would have been granted to a series of companies previously designated among a preferred group. EFE


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