Ex-minister Nishimura questioned over LDP’s political funds scandal

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TOKYO(Kyodo)–Japanese prosecutors have questioned former economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on a voluntary basis over a political funds scandal involving the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction, sources close to the matter said Saturday.    

The faction, formerly led by slain Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is alleged to have failed to declare hundreds of millions of yen in revenue from its fundraising parties in political funding reports and creating slush funds to reimburse its members, the sources said.    

With the latest move, six senior members of the faction now have been questioned, including former top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno and former LDP policy chief Koichi Hagiuda earlier this month.    

The prosecutors are considering building a criminal case against the faction’s accountant in charge while also looking into the level of involvement of the senior members of the faction over potentially systematic efforts to create a slush fund.    

The Political Funds Control Act requires an accountant to submit a report on income and expenditures, and a failure to report can be punishable by imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to 1 million yen. Lawmakers could also face criminal charges if suspected of colluding with accountants.

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