Former executives of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Inc have admitted in a trial on Tuesday to accusations that they bribed a Thai public servant over a power plant project in a case under Japan's first plea bargain deal, according to Kyodo news agency.
Fuyuhiko Nishikida, 63, and Yoshiki Tsuji, 57, admitted to the charges in the indictment during their first hearing at the Tokyo District Court.
The court adopted the plea bargain agreement signed by prosecutors and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power on June 28 as evidence, with the deal exempting the firm from indictment in exchange for cooperation in investigations and the trial, Kyodo reported.
Conspiring with Satoshi Uchida, 64, who had managed the power plant project then, Nishikida, who was in charge of materials procurement, and Tsuji allegedly paid Bt11 million ($338,000) in February 2015 to the senior official of the Transport Ministry in Thailand to receive favorable treatment in unloading cargo for the local power plant project, according to the indictment.
Thai authorities had told them that the Japanese company failed to meet necessary conditions for cargo discharge.
During the hearing, Tokyo prosecutors said Nishikida and Tsuji sought Uchida's advice after the senior official of the ministry's port and harbor bureau allegedly requested a bribe.
Uchida accepted the request because he thought a delay in the project would incur a loss and cause problems for clients of the Japanese company, according to the prosecutors.
The first hearing for Uchida will be held Jan 11.
The company came to know of the matter in March 2015, alerted by a whistleblower, and later reported it to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office following an internal probe, according to Kyodo.
The Yokohama-based firm entered into a plea bargain agreement in June. The plea bargaining system was just introduced in Japan that month.
In July, Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) member Vittaya Arkompituk disclosed that five Thai officials has been implicated in the bribery scandal.
He was speaking in response to news reports that Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems alerted Japanese public prosecutors about a Bt20million bribe made by some of its employees to Thai officials, after receiving a tip-off from a whistle-blower.
“The scandal surrounds the construction of a power plant in Thailand. It happened in 2013,” Vittaya said.
Thailand’s Marine Department confirmed earlier this week that it was now investigating the alleged bribe.