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Kansai Electric execs in hot water over murky payments worth $3m

Money came from former deputy mayor of town that hosts a nuclear plant

Kansai Electric President Shigeki Iwane apologies for the payments scandal at a news conference in Osaka on Sept. 27. (Photo by Tomoki Mera)

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Kansai Electric Power Co. said Friday 20 people, including its top executives, received a total of 320 million yen ($3 million) in money and goods over a seven-year period from 2011, from an official of a central Japan town that hosts one of the company's nuclear power plants.

Kansai Electric Power President Shigeki Iwane, 66, said they tried to return what they received but were not immediately able to do so after the late deputy mayor of Takahama town, in Fukui Prefecture, refused to take back the money and goods in question.

"We deeply apologize to those involved and the public for causing worries and inconveniences," Iwane said at a hastily arranged press conference in Osaka.

Iwane, who admitted to receiving goods himself, and Chairman Makoto Yagi, 69, had their pay cut over the matter and others were also subjected to disciplinary measures. However, Iwane refused to go into further detail about the other officials, only saying they have already returned what they deemed as excessive.

"I would like to fully exercise my leadership so there will be no recurrence," said Iwane, adding he hopes to restore public trust in the utility together with Yagi.

Investigations by tax authorities found that the former deputy mayor, Eiji Moriyama, who died at age 90 in March this year, received a 300-million-yen commission from a local construction company that was hired for projects at the Takahama nuclear complex, sources said.

The construction company in Takahama received at least 2.5 billion yen worth of work as part of plant projects, between 2015 and 2018, related documents showed.

Moriyama told the authorities that he provided the money to Kansai Electric officials as a token of his appreciation for supporting the town, which has relied heavily on the nuclear plant economically, according to the sources.

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