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29 tax office staffers caught pocketing government money

Date Posted: 2005-11-04

Tax office employees defrauding the Okinawa Prefecture Government were nabbed by airplane ticket stubs they dnít know about.

The 29 tax specialists had been pocketing money by forging higher expense receipts than what was actually spent. Officials say the scheme netted the people more than Y3,410,000 ($31,000) on travel over the past four years. The 29, part of a 53-person office bureau, have returned the money but still face disciplinary actions.

Angry at what happened within his department, the Tax Office Director says ďI feel bad that I gave credit to the employees, but now I canít believe them. I must increase the number of investigators.Ē
The fraud was uncovered when one half of official airline tickets were delivered directly to the tax office. An audit revealed the actual costs for plane tickets were well below what the employees had claimed on reimbursement documents. They also used trumped up documents to claim extra money for hotels, meals and incidentals while traveling. The crooked employees didnít know about the travel agency sending documents, and about auditors checking them. In other cases the employees stole blank receipts and forged in numbers.

Action against the 29 has already been taken, and includes salary cuts for three months, coupled with demands for restitution of the illicitly claimed money. The biggest single incident of pocketing money ws from the Chief of the Tax Office staff, who on 14 occasions faked travel receipts totaling Y195,700 ($1,780).

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