TOKYO (Reuters) – Prosecutors are building a case against former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s secretary over failing to report a total of as much as 40 million yen ($382,848) in political funds, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday.
Ex-premier Abe is under fire after sources told local media that his office helped cover the costs of dinner parties for supporters, a possible violation of funding laws that conflicts with Abe’s vehement denials in parliament last year.
The scandal also threatens to embroil Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was widely seen as Abe’s right-hand man during his tenure and defended him in parliament.
Abe’s secretary is quoted as telling investigators that the income and expenditures “should have been included in the political funding report” and that “it was common practice not to,” in the Yomiuri story.
Abe’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors are building their case on what they see as the failure to report 14 million yen in five years’ worth of ticket sales as both income and expenditure, as well as an additional eight million yen that Abe’s office paid to cover the party, the same report said.
Abe had repeatedly said in parliament that “there was no income or expenditure that needed to be included in the political funding report,” and denied that his office had covered the gap between ticket sales and the costs of the party.
Last week, Suga deflected questions on how he would take responsibility for making inaccurate statements in parliament, but said that “if it comes to be that what I said was different from the facts, then I will likely take action given that I too am responsible for my responses.”
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