3 Arrested over Padding Rakuten Mobile Contracting Fees

REUTERS/Sam Nussey
The logo of Rakuten is pictured at the headquarters of Rakuten in Tokyo, Japan, May 15, 2019.

TOKYO — Tokyo police arrested three people Friday for allegedly defrauding Rakuten Mobile Inc. of about ¥2.5 billion by padding contracting fees linked to the construction of cell phone base stations.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Yuki Sato, 46, the former chief of Rakuten Mobile’s logistics management department; Kazunari Mitsuhashi, 53, former managing director of Nippon Logistech Corp., a logistics company currently under the court-administered civil rehabilitation process; and Osamu Hamanaka, 49, president of transportation company Trail.

The three are suspected of repeatedly overcharging Rakuten Mobile as the company hurried to get mobile phone base stations set up. The MPD sees the possibility of the total amount defrauded reaching around ¥30 billion.

They were arrested for allegedly padding the amount of contracting fees for building base stations, including costs for chartering transporter vehicles, by about ¥920 million in late July 2021, leading Rakuten Mobile to transfer a total of around ¥2.5 billion to the bank account of Nippon Logistech.

The MPD has not revealed whether the three have admitted the charges.

Nippon Logistech was the mobile carrier’s contractor, while Trail was its subcontractor.

According to the MPD, Nippon Logistech was tasked with the storage and transport of parts needed for base station construction, which the company subcontracted to Trail.

The suspects are seen to have repeatedly inflated contracting fees since 2019.

Some of the fraudulently acquired money is believed to have been funneled to the account of a company headed by Sato’s wife.

Rakuten Mobile said last September that it had received fraudulent payment bills from Nippon Logistech. It dismissed Sato for his involvement in the case and filed a criminal complaint against him with the MPD.

Trail was found by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau last month to have concealed over ¥7 billion in income related to the base station project, sources said.

A Rakuten Mobile representative has released a comment apologizing for the incident, while pledging to cooperate fully with police investigations.