Japanese Cabinet Minister Denies Involvement In Crypto Exchange Dealings

Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs & Communications and Minister in charge of Women’s Empowerment was pressed on the issue of her involvement with an unregistered cryptocurrency exchange, which was allegedly violating the Japanese fund settlement law. Seiko Noda flatly denied any such intention July 19, telling reporters the meeting was aimed at getting “an overall general account of cryptocurrency exchanges.”

Noda also stated that she had “no vested interest in the company in question” and the decision by her office to request a briefing “obviously does not amount to exerting pressure.” She added that she was not present when the meeting was held Jan. 30.

The Development So Far

In January, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) reportedly suspected a Tokyo-based company of violating the law by operating a non-registered cryptocurrency exchange. The FSA requested a written response to its concerns from the company, arguing that it did not respond by the deadline given, it would report the matter to investigate authorities and take necessary steps.

The document obtained by the Asahi Shimbun reportedly revealed that several days after issuing the warning, Noda’s office contacted the FSA, asking for an explanation of what had happened.

This event, according to some sources, concerns a meeting Noda’s office held with the FSA regarding the alleged company in the presence of the company’s representative. Noda reportedly denied that she brought pressure upon the FSA investigation, telling the Asahi Shimbun that the purpose of the meeting was to get an overall general account of cryptocurrency exchanges.

A senior official at the FSA emphasized that Noda’s office request for a briefing could be recognized as pressure:

“A public servant will likely take it as pressure if an aide to a sitting Cabinet member calls for a meeting in which an employee of a company the agency is looking into is also present.”

Subsequently, Noda publicly admitted to having her aide present at the meeting, adding:

“My aide and the employee of the company know each other. Since we received a request for details of the regulations concerning cryptocurrency exchanges, we arranged [for a meeting with the agency]. I was not aware of the agency’s warning against the company.”

An agency official visited Noda’s office at the Diet members’ office building on Jan. 30 to explain to Noda’s aide and the representative of the company under investigation the FSA’s stance on regulations concerning funds raising by issuing cryptocurrency and other matters, according to the sources.

Noda is not the first Diet member to make inquiries into a government agency involved in an investigation. In 2012, Kozo Yamamoto, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of the Lower House, raised questions in the Diet concerning an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission into allegations of insider trading involving an acquaintance of his.

In another case in 2017, an aide to Jiro Hatoyama, an LDP member of the Lower House, requested a briefing from the National Tax Agency about a tax inquiry concerning a company the aide had dealings with.

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