Police arrest fraud suspect transferred

The Yomiuri Shimbun
COVID-19 relief fraud suspect Mitsuhiro Taniguchi, center, arrives at Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture on Wednesday after being transferred from Indonesia.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo police on Wednesday arrested a COVID-19 relief fraud suspect who was transferred from Indonesia the same day.

The arrest warrant for Mitsuhiro Taniguchi, 47, was served while he was on a flight to Narita Airport.

The Metropolitan Police Department believes that a group led by Taniguchi fraudulently received ¥1 billion by making about 1,780 false applications between May and September 2020 for central government benefits for small firms and sole proprietors seriously affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Taniguchi, who left Japan in October 2020, was captured by Indonesian authorities on June 7 local time.

The fraud group had more than 10 core members, including Taniguchi and his relatives, while over 40 people were involved in soliciting people to lend their names for use when filing for the benefits, police sources said.

On Sunday, the Tokyo police served fresh arrest warrants on Taniguchi’s former wife, 45, and two sons, 22 and 21, on charges of defrauding the government of ¥3 million in COVID-19 benefits.