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More lawmakers involved in Japan casino bribery scandal

An adviser to Chinese online sports lottery operator 500.com told investigators that the company gave money to five more lawmakers beside Tsukasa Akimoto, who was arrested in late December.

On Friday, a Tokyo court agreed to a request from city prosecutors to extend the detention of Akimoto through January 14. He was arrested over allegations that he had received bribes from a Chinese gambling firm to back its bid to build a casino resort in Hokkaido.

Mr Akimoto, a former member of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), maintains his innocence and says that he has not done anything wrong. He resigned from Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-led LDP after he was arrested on December 25 but has retained his seat in the Diet (Japanese parliament).

The Tokyo District Court has also decided to prolong the detention of three individuals linked to 500.com. The three arrested individuals are suspected to have handed the bribe to Mr Akimoto.

However, the case took a new turn when Katsunori Nakazado, an adviser to 500.com and a former member of the Urasoe city assembly in Okinawa, said that he personally handed JPY1 million ($9,100) to each of five Japanese lawmakers around September 2017 when the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a snap election.

Names of aforementioned lawmakers are yet to be revealed but some of them belong to a cross-party group of lawmakers dedicated to promoting international tourism, according to a source.

On Thursday, shares in 500.com slumped by more than 12 per cent in New York after the company has formed a Special Investigation Committee (SIC) and announced an internal investigation into alleged illegal money transfers by consultants.

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