A Japanese lawmaker from the largest faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was arrested on Sunday over a political funds scandal, local media reported.
Yoshitaka Ikeda, a House of Representatives lawmaker, is suspected of having taken more than 40 million yen (about $280,000) from slush funds created by the LDP faction, Kyodo News reported, citing sources close to the matter.
The largest LDP faction, namely Seiwaken, or the Seiwa policy study group previously led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is alleged to have failed to declare hundreds of millions of yen in fundraising events revenue in political funding reports, possibly pooling secret funds.
The amount is believed to have totaled about 500 million yen over a five-year period through 2022, for which the statute of limitations has not expired under the political funds control law, the report said.
Dozens of the Abe faction members are suspected of having pocketed a portion of the revenue they collected through the sale of party tickets above their quotas, with the total sum reaching at least 80 million yen over the period, it added.
LDP factions reportedly established quotas for individual lawmakers on the sale of party tickets, usually priced at 20,000 yen. Revenue exceeding the quotas is allegedly funneled to the lawmakers as kickbacks.
It is legal for a Japanese political entity to raise funds through ticket sales at fundraising events and redistribute the proceeds to member lawmakers, as long as they file credible reports on political funding.
The political funds scandal engulfing Japan's main ruling party emerged following a criminal complaint alleging five LDP factions underreported their revenue from political fundraising parties, from which the extra income may have been returned to some of their lawmakers as kickbacks.