Japanese power firm executives quit over $3 million gift scandal

Kansai Electric Power Co. Chairman Makoto Yagi, left, and President Shigeki Iwane attends a press conference in Osaka, western Japan Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP)
Updated 09 October 2019

Japanese power firm executives quit over $3 million gift scandal

  • Yagi's resignation is effective immediately, but Iwane will stay on until an independent probe into the scandal is complete

TOKYO: The chairman of a Japanese power firm resigned Wednesday after admitting he and other executives received money and gifts worth around $3 million from a town hosting one of their nuclear plants.
The money and gifts were given to some 20 executives over the course of seven years from 2011 by the late deputy mayor of Takahama town, where Kansai Electric (KEPCO) has a nuclear plant.
"I and (KEPCO president Shigeki) Iwane have decided to step down to clarify our management responsibility over the situation," KEPCO Chairman Makoto Yagi told reporters after a board meeting.
Yagi's resignation is effective immediately, but Iwane will stay on until an independent probe into the scandal is complete later this year, he said.
The gifts came to light after investigations by tax authorities into the late deputy mayor Eiji Moriyama.
According to local media, tax agency investigations found that Moriyama received a 300-million-yen commission from a local construction company hired for projects at the Takahama plant.
Moriyama reportedly told tax authorities he had decided to give KEPCO officials the money in the form of both cash and gifts as a token of his appreciation.
Yagi and Iwane apologised after the scandal came to light, but initially refused to step down.
They changed their mind after being heavily criticised and realising the damage being done to the public's trust in KEPCO, executives said.
On Wednesday Iwane apologised again, and said he will assume a "last mission" of revealing the whole truth of the scandal by cooperating with the independent probe committee, which is due to issue a report in December.
The executives have said they planned to return the gifts and money "at the right time".
"We were afraid our relationship with the local government would be damaged" if the gifts and money were rejected, Iwane has said.
It was not immediately clear if KEPCO, which runs the Takahama nuclear plant with four reactors in central Fukui prefecture, will face sanctions over the incident.


Oil retreats in face of renewed coronavirus uncertainty

Updated 22 February 2020

Oil retreats in face of renewed coronavirus uncertainty

  • G20 finance leaders to meet in Saudi Arabia at the weekend to discuss risks to the global economy
  • OPEC+ has been withholding supply to support prices and many analysts expect an extension or deepening of the curbs

LONDON: Oil prices fell on Friday as weak Asian data and a rise in new coronavirus cases fuelled uncertainty about the economic outlook while leading crude producers appeared to be in no rush to curb output.

Brent crude was down $1.56, or 2.6 percent, at $57.75 in afternoon trade, while U.S. crude dropped $1.25, or 2.3 percent, to $52.63.

"With Brent failing to breach the $60 level on Thursday despite better than expected U.S. oil inventory data, rising market uncertainty is dragging down oil prices on Friday," said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

"Market participants who benefited from the price rise in recent days might prefer not to go into the weekend with a long position."

 

China reports rise in coronavirus cases.

Japan factory activity shrinks at fastest pace since 2012.

Russia says early OPEC+ meeting no longer makes sense.

Finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies meet in Saudi Arabia at the weekend to discuss risks to the global economy after new Asian economic and health data kept investors on guard.

Beijing reported an uptick in coronavirus cases on Friday and South Korea reported 100 new cases, doubling its infections. In Japan, meanwhile, more than 80 people have tested positive for the virus.

Factory activity in Japan registered its steepest contraction in seven years in February, hurt by fallout from the outbreak. 

"We still believe that the market is likely to trade lower from current levels, given the scale of the surplus over the first half of this year, and the need for the market to send a signal to OPEC+ that they must take further action at their meeting in early March," said ING analyst Warren Patterson.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that global oil producers understood it would no longer make sense for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to meet before the planned gathering.

The group, known as OPEC+, has been withholding supply to support prices and many analysts expect an extension or deepening of the curbs.