More Details Emerge in 500.com Bribery Case Involving Japan’s Casino Push

A former chairman of Kamori Kanko Co., a travel agency in Japan, has admitted to bribing Tsukasa Akimoto, the former Liberal Democratic Party member and House of Representatives lawmaker. Kimihito Kamori did in fact, bribe the lawmaker in an attempt to receive preference in building a casino in Hokkaido.

Earlier this week, Kamori pled guilty in the Tokyo District Court to charges of bribing Akimoto. The travel agency firm that Kamori worked for was interested in building an integrated casino resort. 500.com, a sports lottery firm of China, was also involved in the deal.

Court papers show that Akimoto was bribed by the travel agency and sports lottery firm to push their bid for the integrated casino resort to the forefront. Akimoto was arrested in late 2019 after it was suspected that he took bribes of over JPY7.6 million to help the two companies win licensing.

Akimoto said he was innocent and denied taking any money as part of the casino legalization process in Japan. This past January, he was indicted for bribery and was released with bail the next month.

This week, court documents revealed the Kamori invited Akimoto and his family to Rustusu in February 2018. They covered the cost of the trip in order to receive preferential treatment for the casino project. Kamori reportedly worked with Masahiko Konno and Katsunori Nakazato to bribe Akimoto. Konno and Nakazato are former advisors at 500.com.

Akimoto cannot catch a break as of late, having been rearrested just last week for tampering involving a witness. It was reported that Akimoto allegedly offered money to witnesses in the case to provide false testimony. Akimoto denies these claims as well.

In early August, it was revealed that efforts were supposedly made on Akimoto’s behalf to see individuals connected to 500.com commit perjury while on the stand and testify in favor of the lawmaker. Those facing charges say they acted based on Akimoto’s behalf.

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