In Japan and federal legislator Tsukasa Akimoto (pictured) has reportedly been sentenced to a four-year term in prison after being found guilty of accepting bribes from representatives of a company that had been looking to bring an integrated casino resort to the northern island of Hokkaido.
According to a report from GGRAsia, the decision from the Tokyo District Court included a fine of $68,300 following a determination that 49-year-old Akimoto had accepted an analogous amount in bribes from a pair of representatives for Chinese sports lottery firm 500.com Limited. The source detailed that this duo, Katsunori Nakazato and Masahiko Konno, were similarly found guilty of corruption in October and sentenced to suspended terms in prison.
Akimoto was reportedly arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office on Christmas Day of 2019 amid claims that he had illicitly taken cash from the representatives of Shenzhen-headquartered 500.com Limited so as to help smooth the firm’s path towards receiving a license to bring an integrated casino resort to Hokkaido. The Tokyo native was then serving in the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and was alleged to have given Nakazato and Konno privileged information concerning the casino liberalization process.
Tokyo District Court Judge Toshihiko Niwa reportedly declared that Akimoto had indeed turned over intelligence to Nakazato and Konno ‘as a result of extravagant wining and dining’. However, the authority did not purportedly agree with the country’s public prosecutor that the former member of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party should be sentenced to serve five years behind bars.
Japan is home to some 126 million people and its federal government passed legislation in July of 2018 that will allow a trio of disparate communities to each play host to a sole Las Vegas-style development featuring conference centers, restaurants, multiple hotels, shops and large casinos. This selection process is expected to be concluded in April of next year with the city of Osaka as well as Nagasaki Prefecture and Wakayama Prefecture now leading the pack of bidding hopefuls.
Although many industry experts had originally considered Hokkaido an ideal site for one of Japan’s coming integrated casino resorts, the northern jurisdiction with its plethora of ski resorts and health spas reportedly pulled of the license race in November of 2019 due to envisioned planning difficulties. This exit purportedly moreover came some two months after the former boss for local tourism firm Kamori Kanko Company Limited, Kimihito Kamori, was convicted on charges that he had similarly participated in the bribery of Akimoto on behalf of representatives from 500.com Limited.