Finance Minister Says He Was Involved In Insider Trading Scandal
TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s finance minister changed his earlier testimony and said today that 10,000 shares of stock in a firm involved in an insider trading scandal were purchased in his name.
Kiitchi Miyazawa is the first Cabinet member linked directly to the scandal over unlisted shares of the real estate firm Recruit-Cosmos Co. that were sold later for large profits after the company went public.
″I never intended to hide it from the public, but I just found out about it myself a few days ago,″ Miyazawa said in response to questions from opposition parties in parliament.
Several other senior officials, including Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, have said their aides purchased shares in the company without their knowledge.
Miyazawa told the Diet, Japan’s parliament, in August that a former aide, Tsuneo Hattori, bought the stock on his own, and did not acknowledge any direct involvement.
″I conferred with Mr. Hattori recently after the case was revealed and learned that he used my name to make things work more smoothly,″ Miyazawa said. ″He told me that he was asked by his friend to lend my name and he responded to the request carelessly.″
But Miyazawa continued to deny any previous knowledge about the dealings and said, ″People including myself and my aides were never involved in the dealings themselves.″
A number of senior politicians and business leaders reportedly obtained unlisted shares of Recruit-Cosmos in 1984 and earned up to $780,000 each in profits by selling them after public trading began a short time later. The price of the stock nearly quadrupled soon after the shares were placed on the over-the-counter market.
No criminal charges have been filed against those who bought the shares, but opposition parties have raised ethical questions about the politicians who were involved.
The controversy has highlighted the frequently lucrative ties between businessmen and politicians in Japan. Trading on privileged information is a widely accepted practice. New laws passed since the scandal unfolded this summer deal more stringently with insider trading, but are not retroactive.
The Japan Communist Party on Tuesday released a list of nine people, including Miyazawa, who allegedly purchased shares in the company through Do- Best Inc., a financial firm linked to Recruit-Cosmos.
The list included aides to Prime Minister Takeshita, former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and Shintaro Abe, secretary general of the governing Liberal Democratic Party.
Takeshita has said a former aide obtained 2,000 shares of Recruit-Cosmos stock through another firm and sold them shortly after public trading began, earning a profit of about $31,000.
Opposition parties fiercely attacked Miyazawa today for his personal involvement in the stock dealings and his previous testimony.