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A Top Boss of Japan’s Notorious Yakuza Cartel May Face Capone-esque Tax-Evasion Charges

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A leader of Japan’s top criminal organization may soon face charges of tax evasion after a rival faction that recently split from the group is believed to have gotten its hands on documents implicating him.

Experts said Tuesday that a splinter group of Kenichi Shinoda’s syndicate has obtained evidence of illegal funds received by the underworld boss, reports Agence France-Presse.

Shinoda, also known as Shinobu Tsukasa, heads the powerful Yamaguchi-gumi gang within the yakuza — the Japanese equivalent of Italy’s mafia and China’s triads.

Journalist Atsushi Mizoguchi, an expert on the yakuza, told a gathering at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan that the mobsters who split from the Yamaguchi-gumi earlier this year “are believed to have data about how much Tsukasa has pocketed” and could now bring down their former leader by handing it over to law-enforcement authorities.

Mizoguchi also said the breakaway group was dissatisfied at the portion of their earnings they had to give to senior leaders like Tsukasa, amounting to tens of millions of dollars. Law-enforcement officials allege that yakuza cells dabble in everything from prostitution, drugs and gambling to white-collar crimes.

Their split reportedly diminished Tsukasa’s 23,000-strong force — the largest organized crime group in Japan — by about 10%, and police have expressed concern about a potential gang war breaking out. But the threat of imprisonment for tax evasion has already taken down at least one other yakuza leader and could well be employed against Tsukasa, Mizoguchi said.

“As far as there are memos showing when and how much cash was passed to him, the tax evasion charge would stand,” he added.


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Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com