JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian authorities have arrested a Japanese fugitive for his role in an alleged Covid-19 subsidy fraud in his home country.
Mitsuhiro Taniguchi, 47, who was arrested by immigration officers and backed by local police on Tuesday, June 7 at about 10:30 pm local time, left Japan for Indonesia in October 2020, according to National Police spokesperson Dedi Prasetyo.
“MT (Mitsuhiro Taniguchi) was arrested in Kalirejo village of Central Lampung district,” Dedi told journalists on Wednesday, June 8.
The Associated Press reported Taniguchi and a group of acquaintances allegedly submitted some 1,700 false applications for Covid-19 relief funds. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department believes they received subsidies in more than 960 of those applications for 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 Tokyo’s MPD placed him on an international wanted list, according to the Japanese newspaper The 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 scheme was uncovered in August 2020 when the office offering the subsidies consulted with the Tokyo police. Taniguchi is believed to have fled Japan two months later, Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported.
Taniguchi will be handed over to the Directorate of Immigration’s Supervision and Enforcement division. Taniguchi was wanted by Japanese police in May 2022.
Previously, the Indonesian Police via Interpol Jakarta coordinated with the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights to investigate Taniguchi's whereabouts.
“NCB (National Central Bureau) Jakarta has coordinated with the immigration department to locate whether the subject is within Indonesian jurisdiction,” secretary of NCB Interpol Indonesia Brigadier General Amur Chandra Juli Buana said on Monday, June 6.
Tribunnewscom reported that one of the major Japanese television stations, NTV, assigned two journalists to Jakarta Thursday, June 2, to investigate the whereabouts of Taniguchi.
The NTV team visited Taniguchi’s office and house in Jakarta based on his business card, which stated his job title as CEO.
“The company is located on the 12th floor, but people do not recognize his name. Police also came here yesterday looking for him,” a building staff told NTV reporters.
Meanwhile, the house allegedly belonging to Taniguchi was also left unoccupied.
The journalists then interviewed Taniguchi's friend. From the interview they knew that Tanuguchi asked his friend to invest in Indonesia. His friend transferred millions of Yen into Taniguchi’s bank account.
“I contacted him several times, and he finally sent a reply on October 1, 2020, and only then I know he had a big problem and promised me to call back. But he never did,” said his friend.
(Writer: Rahel Narda Chaterine | Editor: Diamanty Meiliana)
Sources: The Associated Press
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