Press Conference by SUZUKI Shunichi, Minister of Finance and Minister of State for Financial Services
(Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 11:32 am to 11:41 am)
[Questions and answers:]
I would like to ask about bank account handovers as well as cash card and bankbook collections. There has been a string of fraud cases in which fire brigades nationwide have pooled or embezzled compensation paid out by the national and local governments, prompting a move to make transfer payments directly to individual fire brigade members. Nevertheless, a number of media reports have brought to light incidents in which members of some fire brigades have been instructed to open bank accounts by their fire brigade leaders, who then collected the members’ cash cards and bankbooks. This seizure of access to bank accounts to which compensation and other funds are transferred could facilitate money laundering or other crimes, and national tax is also included in the remuneration paid to individual fire brigade members. Please tell us how you view this matter and what you are doing to deal with it.
Since fire brigades fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, I am not familiar with the circumstances of individual brigades and so I will refrain from commenting on specific instances.
That said, speaking in general terms, having accountholders hand over their bankbooks and such does indeed entail a risk to make their accounts available for use in money laundering, as you pointed out in your question. Accordingly, the Act on Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds makes it a crime to pretend to be another person and take custody of a bankbook or cash card for the purpose of conducting deposit transactions or to hand over a bankbook or cash card to another party knowing that the other party intends to use it for such a purpose. I believe that citizens need to comply with these laws and regulations when opening savings accounts.
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