Abu, Yamaguchi Pref., secures 90% of mistakenly sent relief money

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Abu town office in Yamaguchi Prefecture

ABU, Yamaguchi (Jiji Press) — The western Japan town of Abu has secured some 90% of the ¥46.3 million in COVID-19 relief funds mistakenly transferred to a local man, Mayor Norihiko Hanada said Tuesday.

About ¥43 million has been secured from three settlement services agencies used by Sho Taguchi, the 24-year-old resident of the Yamaguchi Prefecture town, who was arrested last week for allegedly using part of the relief money.

Taguchi, arrested on suspicion of computer fraud, is believed to have illegally gained a profit by transferring the coronavirus relief funds to the accounts of the settlement services agencies, although he knew that the money was paid to him by mistake.

Taguchi had told police that he used the mistakenly paid money entirely through online gambling.

The town sued Taguchi on May 12, demanding the full return of the money.

According to the petition and other sources, Taguchi transferred most of the money to the three settlement services agencies. An order to provisionally seize the money was issued on April 27 to financial institutions where the agencies held accounts.

Before the relief funds were paid in, Taguchi had only ¥665 in his bank account, according to a lawyer for him.

After receiving the mistakenly paid ¥46.3 million April 8, he transferred money from his account on 34 occasions, sending 80% of the received funds to one of the three settlement services agencies.

On April 19, only ¥68,743 was left in his account.