Japanese has to pay back $360,000 “piece by piece” after subsidy mix-up

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Tokyo (AFP) – A Japanese man who blew up a $360,000 Covid-19 handout at online casinos after receiving the cash in error will be repaying authorities “bit by bit”, according to reports by the Wednesday.

“I am very sorry that I used it up,” the man said, according to his lawyer, who told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper that his client gambled away the money.

The hefty lump sum was sent last month in a mix-up by officials in the remote western Japan city of Abu, who were organizing a fundraiser for low-income residents affected by the pandemic.

Weeks of failure to repay the 46.3 million yen by the man, who is reportedly 24, prompted authorities to sue him in a desperate attempt to get their money back.

Now he has decided to “return the money – even if it is piece by piece,” said his lawyer.

The city says officials once even asked the man’s mother to visit him at work to convince him, but to no avail.

And questions have surfaced as to whether he can even pay back the money after the lawyer said his client is now very tight on cash.

Abu Mayor Norihiko Hanada told reporters Wednesday he was “genuinely happy” with the man’s decision, but said the city has no plans to withdraw its lawsuit.

“That’s one thing and the lawsuit we’re filing against him is another, so I hope he’ll tell the truth in court,” Hanada said.

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