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Billionaire Kawamoto denies cheating on taxes in Japan

The Hawaii landowner has several run-down properties in Kahala

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 02:23 p.m. HST, Mar 05, 2013

Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto denies that he cheated on his taxes, an allegation that led to his arrest Tuesday in Tokyo.

In an interview with reporters before he appeared before the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, Kawamoto said, “I haven’t evaded taxes and I don’t know anything about it ( the charges),” the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said in its English-language edition. “Tax inspections should have been completed last year,” Kawamoto said.

But prosecutors say Kawamoto, 81, is suspected of evading about $9 million in corporate taxes from his Marugen group companies, which operate more than 50 buildings in places such as Ginza in Tokyo and the Hakata and Kokura districts of Fukuoka Prefecture, according to Japanese media reports. The buildings house upscale clubs and bars.

The Japanese television network NTV reported that the money from the alleged tax evasion was used to buy art for the museum Kawamoto is building in Hawaii.

Kyodo News said Kawamoto was arrested for hiding over $31 million in revenue over three years ending in December 2011, avoiding $9.2 million in corporate taxes.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, quoting the prosecutors office and other sources, said Kawamoto is believed to have played a leading role in the Marugen group’s tax evasion by not reporting rent for some tenants of the group’s core company, Tokyo Shoji, and falsely listing losses under the guise of building sales. Tokyo Shoji, which has been liquidated, did not pay corporate tax during that period as it reported losses.

An accountant for the group reportedly told prosecutors that Kawamoto gave instructions to juggle the accounts, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Kawamoto was occasionally informed of the group’s sales, and told the accountant to juggle the accounts to keep the company “slightly in the red,” the newspaper reported. Kawamoto checked tax documents before they were submitted, the sources said.

Kawamoto told the Yomiuri Shimbun on Feb. 22 that he did not handle accounting details. He has also bragged about not paying taxes.

The billionaire often said, “I don’t care about taxes. Only fools would pay them,” an acquaintance who has known Kawamoto for about 50 years told the newspaper.

Kawamoto splits his time between Hawaii and Japan. The eccentric tycoon has about 20 properties in Kahala, some of which are vacant and have fallen into ruin. He has also been busy turning another property on Kahala Avenue into a public garden.

Seventeen statues — a few close to 18 feet tall — have been positioned around the roughly 2-acre oceanfront property, most of which was once the estate of the late Hawaii resort developer Chris Hemmeter.

Kawamoto bought the site in 2005 and 2006 for a combined $30 million during an acquisition spree in which he paid close to $165 million for almost 30 homes on Kahala Avenue over the past 10 years.

Part of the plan he dubbed “Kahala Avenue Mission” was to rent nine homes to nine Native Hawaiian families for $150 to $200 a month, though complaints over housing discrimination led Kawamoto to curtail the plan and provide three Hawaiian families with free residences since 2007.

The other element of the plan was to create art and garden museums.

“In order to make this beautiful street, all the houses and gardens will be lit up in the evening so that people can enjoy the view at their own leisure,” Kawamoto said in a written statement in 2006.

But most of his creations have been unsightly.

Kawamoto crudely broke down portions of walls fronting the street, leaving rubble laying about. He also filled in swimming pools, he said for liability reasons, and often let vegetation grow wild. Some of his homes fell into disrepair and racked up city fines.

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primowarrior wrote:
I can hear the snickers and the sounds of glee ringing up and down Kahala Avenue now. Kawamoto's lawyers will probably tie this case up in court until he dies of old age.
on March 4,2013 | 11:00PM
Grimbold wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 5,2013 | 03:09AM
mijlive wrote:
perfect--how soon can we get him elected to the city council ?
on March 5,2013 | 06:39AM
Anonymous wrote:
Insane or senile? Yet his a billionaire? Wow, that must place all the bottom feeders as imbeciles.
on March 5,2013 | 09:39AM
allie wrote:
I am told by one of my profs. that he was connected to organized crime in Japan in the 1980's and 1990's.
on March 5,2013 | 05:07AM
turbolink wrote:
Still living in your tinfoil hat mode Allie?
on March 5,2013 | 07:31AM
aomohoa wrote:
I'm sure you believe everything your professors tell you. LOL!
on March 5,2013 | 08:11AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Actually, it was on the Internet. They can't put anything on the Internet that's not true. ;-)
on March 5,2013 | 09:13AM
Anonymous wrote:
Allie, watch out for the professor that gives you an "F" then tell you make up submarines races is at his apartment, tonight.
on March 5,2013 | 09:40AM
lee1957 wrote:
Memo to Allie, not everything your profs tell you will be true.
on March 5,2013 | 10:36AM
inverse wrote:
One way to find out. Check if Kawamoto still has all of his fingers.
on March 5,2013 | 12:07PM
cojef wrote:
Or maybe if he has body tattoo covering most of his body?
on March 5,2013 | 02:25PM
Bdpapa wrote:
I don't have any connection with Kahala but good for him! Nothings gonna change though.
on March 5,2013 | 05:31AM
IAmSane wrote:
Times are tough... even for Japanese billionaires. Thanks, Obama.
on March 4,2013 | 11:13PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Oh yeah it's Obama's fault. Absolutely. So was Hurricane Iniki, and the 1929 stock market crash, and the destruction of Pompeii. Oh, and the common cold. That's his fault too. Anything else?
on March 4,2013 | 11:52PM
tiki886 wrote:
Yes, the murder of 4 Americans in Benghazi, the Sequestion, the squandering of $6 trillion dollars. You want some more?
on March 5,2013 | 12:44AM
mki wrote:
And that's why Rush Limbaugh gets paid so well.
on March 5,2013 | 06:09AM
MrMusubi wrote:
...more of your inane comments?
on March 5,2013 | 06:51AM
busterb wrote:
Isn't hilarious that McCain is harping on 4 Americans dead in Bengazi when during his tenure over 4,500 Arizona residents have died from guns, and he hasn't said a peep about them. You'd think since they are on American soil, in his home state as opposed to a hostile territory, they'd be safer. Weren't those 4,500 Americans? Why doesn't he demand to do something about them?
on March 5,2013 | 06:55AM
allie wrote:
true and his disgraceful, criminal record dropping bombs on women and children in Vietnam make him a war criminal to my generation. He is an utter disgrace.
on March 5,2013 | 07:31AM
turbolink wrote:
You speak for you, don't pretend to speak for your generation. You aren't authorized. Until you put yourself in harm's way, be careful of how you judge those who did.
on March 5,2013 | 12:24PM
bekwell wrote:
It is Obama's fault. He said he was going to change the environment, including the weather. Looks like he did.
on March 5,2013 | 04:22AM
RichardCory wrote:
"Thanks, Obama" is a running joke on the internet. Sorry you missed the memo. If you are taking it seriously, you may need to recalibrate your Sarcasm Detector.
on March 5,2013 | 06:36AM
Slow wrote:
Thanks, I bit hard but won't again. We have all probably found that subtle humor isn't always understood online.
on March 5,2013 | 08:04AM
Slow wrote:
That damned Obama Agenda again! He always hated Kahala. It is satisfying to learn that Kawamoto was Obama's fault. As well as Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Un, AIDS and the Syrian revolt.
on March 5,2013 | 08:02AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Some people can take anything and I mean anything and put a political spin on it. It's extremely sad and funny at the same time.
on March 5,2013 | 09:15AM
Mythman wrote:
When are the headlines going to announce arrest of some of our own crooks before they pass away.......
on March 5,2013 | 01:58AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Gotta wait until they are in their 80s.
on March 5,2013 | 05:31AM
hanalei395 wrote:
In the end, his "Kahala Avenue Mission" will be completed, renting MORE than nine homes, all within the law. And ALL of the properties he owns, will be renovated. Jealous neighbors won't be able to do anything about it.
on March 5,2013 | 03:33AM
tiki886 wrote:
Renovated by whom? It will be foreclosed upon by non-payment of property taxes and sold at auction.
on March 5,2013 | 03:50AM
hanalei395 wrote:
You sound like you have a feeling of envy, so, you HOPE.
on March 5,2013 | 04:07AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
Kawamoto is a true sociopath and this of course will take him down forever. Theirs a good chance that several local officials will go down with him as well for aiding and abbetting - stay tuned....
on March 5,2013 | 04:37AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Stay tuned... All of his properties will be cleaned up and renovated, more homes will be rented to Hawaiians, all within the law...and everybody will be happy.....stay tuned.
on March 5,2013 | 05:23AM
localgirl2 wrote:
Hey, sounds like a great idea. Any who are proven guilty should go down as well. The government needs sweeping clean all over the world. They get in and get corrupt. The light turns on and the roaches run for covah....
on March 5,2013 | 05:59AM
Bdpapa wrote:
He has only 3 homes occupied and 1 is in jeopardy due to the tenants. The other 2 are neatly kept.
on March 5,2013 | 05:33AM
localgirl2 wrote:
actually that one in jeopardy has been vacated. They were given notice after many complaints to the police. Also heard rumors of drugs there as well.
on March 5,2013 | 06:01AM
Bdpapa wrote:
They were renting part of the house and was running on a generator.
on March 5,2013 | 12:14PM
localgirl2 wrote:
Ooooh, the class envy bit. "Jealous neighbors won't be able to do anything about it"....where did you get the jealous bit from?? The neighborhood is a disgrace and he should be made to pay huge fines to rectify the situation. Many in the community also feel that the C&C is just sitting on it's hands doing nothing. I agree, much more is able to be done. In the end, the C&C WON'T use the tools that they have. They have 'settled' for cents on the dollar with his fines! WHY?? Their should be liens slapped on the homes when he has fines. It's worked in other places, why not here. Take his properties and sell them at public auctions to wipe away the fines. If he won't correct the issues and play by the rules, then it's high time that the C&C started playing by the books with the laws which are already in place. Check out "Block Busting" and see if that applies in this situation. It's dangerous, a health, hazard, attracts the undesirables....yes, crazy homeless who light fires and yell and swear at the people who use the beach. Some 'who are the benefactors of his benevolence' have recently been evicted from a home on Kahala Ave. There was no electricity for over a month (that is a no no it seems) as well as complaints to the police of physical abuse and the noise stemming for that abuse. There were also too many living in the home and something about exits. Good riddance to the bunch. Hey, let's all get along. Play by the rules of being a good neighbor, keep your nose clean and don't make waves. Comments whispered that he's Yakusa. Well Al Capone was brought down by tax evasion :D
on March 5,2013 | 05:57AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Alll of his properties will be cleaned up, all fines paid and everybody will be happy. Don't worry about it.
on March 5,2013 | 06:24AM
tiki886 wrote:
Iz dat you Genshiro? Did they let you go so soon?
on March 5,2013 | 10:46AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Frustrated tiki is losing it. Thank you very much.
on March 5,2013 | 10:57AM
whs1966 wrote:
His being arrested for evading taxes reminds me of Jimmy & Alan Pflueger: although they have so much more than most people could ever hope to have, it's never enough.
on March 5,2013 | 03:34AM
tiki886 wrote:
As Faye Hanohano would say, friggin h a o l e s and J a p s behaving like pakes.
on March 5,2013 | 03:52AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Faye Hanohano" didn't say that, YOU said that.
on March 5,2013 | 04:24AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Yeah, give her a break, she has enough on her plate.
on March 5,2013 | 05:33AM
allie wrote:
on March 5,2013 | 05:07AM
awahana wrote:
on March 5,2013 | 03:37AM
HD36 wrote:
I don't get why there is no reciprocity on buying property with foreign countries. They can come here and buy stuff but you have to marry or become a citizen of their country to buy something.
on March 5,2013 | 04:22AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
The karma card has come down to deal this insane person the final hand to take him down forever!
on March 5,2013 | 04:38AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Agree! If we allow foreign nationals to buy property they should pay 2X the property assessment in taxes.
on March 5,2013 | 05:35AM
manakuke wrote:
National Police of Japan are very thorough; ties to crime gangs are examined and revealed.
on March 5,2013 | 05:24AM
Yukio wrote:
The man is supposedly worth BILLIONS so an $8 million repayment plus penalties to the Japanese government will likely not be too much of a problem for him. He can afford top legal representation. This is like not paying the electric bill for him.
on March 5,2013 | 05:42AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Now why are they picking on this poor guy?
on March 5,2013 | 05:53AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Only non-Hawaiians are picking on this guy.
on March 5,2013 | 06:06AM
mijlive wrote:
you must be living in one of the houses--or you are one of his lawyers
on March 5,2013 | 06:42AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Of course not. Just having fun with you guys.
on March 5,2013 | 06:54AM
aomohoa wrote:
I guess I'm not awake enough to get the humor. LOL!
on March 5,2013 | 08:17AM
aomohoa wrote:
Your crazy. He has trashed the neighborhood and he is senile. What does your statement have to do with anything?
on March 5,2013 | 08:16AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
I bet he is caught up with Hawaii taxes...
on March 5,2013 | 06:01AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Mr. Genshiro Kawamoto is an honorable honest man full of integrity. People should leave him alone and let him practice his 1st amendment rights. There I've said it and now I hope he leave me a couple of mansions in his will.
on March 5,2013 | 06:31AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Mr. Genshiro Kawamoto is an honorable honest man full of integrity. People should leave him alone and let him practice his 1st amendment rights. There I've said it and now I hope he leave me a couple of mansions in his will.
on March 5,2013 | 06:31AM
cojef wrote:
Me too, cuz I could sure an oceanfront home. Only thing, I could'nt afford to pay the real estate taxes and the neighbors' hoity toity attitudes for any length of time. Further, my excretion stinks and also my urine, whereas the neighbors' doody is ice cream and soda pops for p--s.
on March 5,2013 | 10:53AM
loquaciousone wrote:
too much information
on March 5,2013 | 12:00PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
8 million in corporate taxes? That's chump change for him. He'll just tie this up in the courts.
on March 5,2013 | 06:47AM
tiki886 wrote:
Just because you pay the back taxes, interest and penalties doesn't absolve you of criminal charges of tax evasion. If you robbed a bank and got caught, do you think that by giving the money back to the bank the FBI will let you walk?

Hopefully Japanese law enforcement will be just as tough.

on March 5,2013 | 11:01AM
cojef wrote:
Correction above, omitted "could sure use". Addendum: My Dad owned a home in Kapaa and it was situated about 350 yards from the sea-shore, just makua of the railroad tracks about 100 feet. Nothing like the fresh ocean breeze. Only problem, during one tidal wave episode had dead fish under the house after the water receded.
on March 5,2013 | 11:06AM
bikemom wrote:
". . . and racked up city fines." It would be nice to know how much he was assessed and how much of that he actually paid.
on March 5,2013 | 06:53AM
kailua000 wrote:
finally, someone got him because Hawaii couldnt get him
on March 5,2013 | 07:16AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Let's put things in perspective. You work hard, earn a good income, and decide to invest $2M in a beautiful house and property in a nice neighborhood. Along comes a foreign billionaire who buys not just one, but a bunch of homes there, and let's them fall into ruin, turning a wealthy beautiful neighborhood into a slum. How would you feel about that? How would you feel about your elected representatives who are suppose to protect your rights and look out for the good of its constituency? No, I'm not fortunate enough to be one of those who can afford a home in Kahala, but right is right.
on March 5,2013 | 07:19AM
I'd move.
on March 5,2013 | 09:39AM
Slow wrote:
The really frightening thing about this is the Hair Connection! Crazy, moneyed,kook developers...Kawamoto and Trump. Check the hair. Both nut-cases spoiling Hawaii as fast as we let them.
on March 5,2013 | 08:09AM
aomohoa wrote:
He's an eccentric nut and a criminal! I'm sure the residents around his trashed homes will be thrilled.
on March 5,2013 | 08:14AM
MartyL wrote:
the property taxes are up to date ... sorry. it's a shame he tore down at least 15 of the houses and left rubble. too bad he didn't just buy up Japan. should be a law in the US about foreigners buying up property.
on March 5,2013 | 08:43AM
hanalei395 wrote:
There was one that looked like a giant Taco Bell, and it was out front, near the road. Not like the old mansions, set way back, hidden by heavy tropical foliage. I'm glad that monstrosity is gone.
on March 5,2013 | 10:12AM
forsurftoo wrote:
I am waiting on the City/State to condemn the beachfront properties for public park use.
on March 5,2013 | 08:55AM
cojef wrote:
Yeah! "eminent domain"..
on March 5,2013 | 10:56AM
Mahalo wrote:
Mr. Kawamoto I will offer you $100 for your best Kahala home. This way you will not have capitol gains and a huge tax write off to right your wrong. Call Me
on March 5,2013 | 09:28AM
cojef wrote:
So would I and many others. Anytime you get something for nothing is worth a lot, especially the address. Location, location and location.
on March 5,2013 | 10:58AM
lowtone123 wrote:
Letting some beautiful properties in Kahala waste away into disrepair, now that is criminal.
on March 5,2013 | 09:35AM
Having awful taste is no crime! God Bless America and God Bless freedom of expression.
on March 5,2013 | 09:38AM
cojef wrote:
You wouldn't say that if you were a neighbor.
on March 5,2013 | 11:00AM
false wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 5,2013 | 11:33AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
That's what happens when one has a train.
on March 5,2013 | 02:13PM
turbolink wrote:
That's funny...and prophetic.
on March 5,2013 | 03:55PM
Meleana22 wrote:
No one in their right mind does what Kawamoto has done to the Kahala Avenue area. It's very obvious that he is afflicted with emotional and mental deficiencies-- contributing to his impaired judgment. I wonder what would happen to him if he did the same in an affluent area of Japan...?
on March 5,2013 | 10:46AM
cojef wrote:
Nothing, probably because as some claim, basically "allie", he is a member of the "yakuza".
on March 5,2013 | 02:31PM
yoboseo wrote:
This may not be good for the Kahala residents. With Kawamoto's arrest, nothing may be done to improve his Kahala properties for quite some time.
on March 5,2013 | 11:07AM
engineersoldier wrote:
This guy is not only eccentric, he is sardonic, malicious and evil. Faster he disappears--forever, the better for mankind. Shame on the Japanese Consulate for refusing to get involved--those gutless bureaucrats.
on March 5,2013 | 11:57AM
iwanaknow wrote:
Hey, the Japanese Consulate have other problems on their plate to worry about.
on March 5,2013 | 12:35PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Yeah. The blue fin tuna stock is really depleted and there might not be anymore sashimi for New Years.
on March 5,2013 | 01:54PM
engineersoldier wrote:
You must work there. You could well be one of those gutless bureaucrats. Shame, shame, shame. Japanese used to understand what that meant. Now, they're just like everybody else.
on March 5,2013 | 05:49PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I know I should be compassionate but I am simply enjoying this story too much. This kusojiji needs to be taken down hard. Talk about a leech on the aina. Remember all the baloney about all the houses he planned to rent to needy folk and then he used all that publicity to dodge accusations that all he was doing was lowering property values in advance of buying more homes? Now it turns out he only rented 3 places and one became a real dump. Hey Tokyo prosecutor...Genshiro-san is a flight risk. No bail. Lock the buggah up and keep him out of Hawaii.
on March 5,2013 | 12:59PM
hanalei395 wrote:
He planned to rent to ONLY needy Hawaiian folk, but then, jealous non-Hawaiian needy folk complained. So, he was forced to drop it, for a while. In the meantime, for three houses, no rent required.
on March 5,2013 | 01:28PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
In other words he planned to break US housing laws and rent based on racial criteria. What really is telling is that you are defending him for that.
on March 5,2013 | 02:16PM
hanalei395 wrote:
He wasn't in it to make money. The $150 to $200 monthly rent was a gift to Hawaiians. Jealous non-Hawaiians wanted a piece of that. But, it may turn out, more houses from him will be offered to Hawaiians...rent free.
on March 5,2013 | 02:32PM
loquaciousone wrote:
In Japan all you need is a couple of wheelbarrows full of kala and the door to your cell magically opens up.......just like Ali Baba.....only in Japan they say OPEN SASHIMI!
on March 5,2013 | 01:49PM
engineersoldier wrote:
I like Kusojijii. Apparently, SA not akamai enough to know what that means, but it fits this character well.
on March 5,2013 | 06:02PM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 5,2013 | 06:34PM
Rapanui00 wrote:
Hey Changalang - you are obviously a sociopath like Kawamoto. His karma card has come full circle and he has been denied bail. I suspect a few people in Hawaii government aided and abetted this evil man. Stay tuned for breaking developments and for you Changalang class warfare will get you nowhere. Aloha
on March 5,2013 | 07:02PM
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