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Indonesia deports Japanese man accused of COVID relief fraud

  • DITA ALANGKARA / AP
                                An Indonesian Immigration officer escort Japanese fugitive Mitsuhiro Taniguchi who was arrested on Sumatra island in early June, prior to his deportation in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, June 22. Indonesia on Wednesday deported Taniguchi who was wanted by Japanese police for COVID-19 subsidy fraud.

    DITA ALANGKARA / AP

    An Indonesian Immigration officer escort Japanese fugitive Mitsuhiro Taniguchi who was arrested on Sumatra island in early June, prior to his deportation in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, June 22. Indonesia on Wednesday deported Taniguchi who was wanted by Japanese police for COVID-19 subsidy fraud.

JAKARTA, Indonesia >> Indonesia early Wednesday deported a Japanese man to Tokyo where police have accused him, his family and acquaintances of participating in a fraud scheme that netted $7.3 million intended for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mitsuhiro Taniguchi, 47, was presented to journalists at the Directorate General of Immigration office in Jakarta before he was sent on a morning Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo.

“He was deported from Indonesia since his passport has been revoked by the Japanese government and he had no residence permit. He will be banned from entering Indonesia in the future,” immigration official Douglas Simamora said at a new conference confirming the man’s deportation.

Taniguchi was arrested on June 4 at a house that owned by a fish trader in Lampung province. During his stay there, he described himself as an investor and invited the local residents to invest in fisheries. Indonesian authorities are investigating whether other people in Indonesia were involved in the Japanese fraud scheme

Taniguchi and a group of acquaintances allegedly submitted about 1,700 false applications for COVID-19 relief funds. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department believes they received subsidies on more than 960 of those applications totaling an estimated 960 million yen ($7.3 million).

Tokyo police arrested Taniguchi’s ex-wife and their two sons on May 30 on suspicion of fraud and placed Taniguchi on an international wanted list, according to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun. It said the three are suspected of defrauding the government of 3 million yen ($22,500) in COVID-19 subsidies from June to August 2020.

The alleged scheme was uncovered in August 2020 when the office offering the subsidies consulted with Tokyo police. He had a limited stay visa for investors when he entered Indonesia in October 2020.

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