Tax fraud at Japan web TV Asahi

Phony fees at heart of coverup

TOKYO — Japan’s TV Asahi has cheated the taxman to the tune of $1.32 million over three years, according to local reports.

At the heart of the coverup are $1.17 million in phony fees the network recorded in that period.

An investigation by the Tokyo Regional Tax bureau focused on an unnamed chief producer in charge of some of TV Asahi’s most popular shows since the early 1980s.

The producer had production companies, including one called Super Produce, fake their bills to the web and kick back the difference.

Another ruse was to submit phony bills from subcontractors who had not worked on a particular program and pocket the payments.

The producer was treated to lavish nights on the town by production companies, tossing away thousands of dollars at clubs.

He also had the companies fly him and a favorite hostess first class to vacation spots and pick up the tab.

When they complained that they were going into the red on his shows, he told them to charge the difference to other programs.

The network has axed the producer and slashed the pay of 12 execs and other employees who were in on the scams.

Investigators also discovered that Super Produce and another unnamed production company owe $2.56 million in back taxes.

TV Asahi and three other webs were nicked for unpaid taxes in 2004.

Speaking to reporters after the most recent scandal blew, web prexy Masao Kimiwada apologized for “betraying our viewers’ trust.”

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