Japan’s suspect in COVID aid scam deported from Indonesia | health and fitness

By MARI YAMAGUCHI, ANDI JATMIKO and EDNA TARIGAN – Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese man accused of defrauding the government out of 1 billion yen ($7.3 million) earmarked for small Japanese businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic was arrested on April 12, 2020 Arrested Wednesday on board a flight after being deported from Indonesia, where he was on the 11th 2 years ago.

Mitsuhiro Taniguchi, 47, was arrested by Japanese police escorting him from Indonesia. He was taken to a police station after landing at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, Japanese media reported. The police confirmed his arrest.

Indonesian immigration official Douglas Simamora said earlier Wednesday that Taniguchi was deported after his passport was revoked by the Japanese government and because he did not have an Indonesian residence permit.

Indonesian authorities arrested Taniguchi on June 4 at a house owned by a fishmonger in Lampung province. During his stay there he described himself as an investor interested in fishing. Indonesian authorities are investigating whether other people in that country were involved in the Taniguchi-related fraud scheme.

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In one case, Taniguchi and his accomplice Koichiro Ota, 34, who were arrested separately on Wednesday, allegedly defrauded the government of 2 million yen ($14,700) by filing a false application on behalf of a person who was not eligible for had a subsidy, Tokyo police said.

Taniguchi and a group of acquaintances allegedly submitted about 1,700 false applications for COVID-19 aid funds to the Japanese government and illegally received subsidies for more than 960 of those applications, taking about 1 billion yen ($7.3 million) with them have, according to reports.

Police arrested Taniguchi’s ex-wife and their two sons – believed to be part of a larger group – in May on fraud charges and prepared to place Taniguchi on an international wanted list. The three suspects allegedly defrauded the government of 3 million yen ($22,500) in COVID-19 subsidies from June to August 2020.

The case surfaced in August 2020 when the office offering the subsidies consulted the Tokyo Police Department. Taniguchi entered Indonesia two months later on an investor visa.

Jatmiko and Tarigan reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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