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Indonesia deports Japanese fugitive accused of COVID relief fraud

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia yesterday deported a fugitive accused of masterminding a lucrative scheme in his native Japan to defraud a government fund offering COVID-19 relief subsidies, officials said.

Mitsuhiro Taniguchi, 47, appeared before reporters at an immigration office in the capital of Jakarta and was flown back to Tokyo on an early morning Japan Airlines flight following his arrest this month.

The Japanese national and several associates are accused of submitting false applications to claim JPY960 million (USD7 million) in COVID-19 relief funds meant for small businesses, according to Japanese media reports.

Official Douglas Orlando Andreas Simamora confirmed the Japanese national’s deportation to Tokyo’s Narita airport in a news conference at the Directorate General of Immigration office.

“He was deported because he did not have residence permit (and) his passport had been revoked by the Japanese government,” said Simamora.

“He will be included in the list of banned (individuals).”

Japanese national Mitsuhiro Taniguchi is escorted out of the Directorate General of Immigration building in Jakarta. PHOTO: AFP

The Soekarno-Hatta international airport immigration office also said in a press release that “MT”, referring to the suspect by his initials, “has now been deported.”

Taniguchi was nabbed in a joint operation on June 7 between local police and immigration officers on the island of Sumatra after being located by the Japanese embassy and having his passport revoked by Tokyo.

He reportedly entered Indonesia in October 2020, several months after the scheme was uncovered by Japanese police.

The fugitive was using a limited-stay visa and was working in the country as a foreign investor helping locals to run fish farms, reportedly to raise money to appease his alleged collaborators.

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