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Japan Regulator Said to Probe U.S. Firm MRI on Missing Assets

Source: Kyodo News

Members of the media wait outside the building housing the MRI International Inc. office in Tokyo on April 26, 2013. Close

Members of the media wait outside the building housing the MRI International Inc.... Read More

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Source: Kyodo News

Members of the media wait outside the building housing the MRI International Inc. office in Tokyo on April 26, 2013.

Japan’s financial watchdog is investigating U.S. asset-management company MRI International Inc. on suspicion that it lost clients’ money, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission plans to unveil the result of the probe as early as today, said the person, who asked not to be named before the announcement. The Financial Services Agency may order Las Vegas-based MRI to suspend operations in Japan, the Nikkei newspaper reported earlier, without citing anyone. Hiroshi Okada, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the agency, declined to comment.

The probe comes a year after Japan’s financial watchdog conducted the biggest investigation of the country’s assets managers amid allegations of fraud at AIJ Investment Advisors Co. AIJ, a Tokyo-based investment company, was found to have concealed losing more than 100 billion yen ($1 billion) of clients’ money.

Calls to MRI’s Tokyo office were transferred to an answering machine saying it will “deliver letters to clients in due course.” The office had a notice posted on its entrance saying business is closed today. Nobody answered the door this morning.

Regulators haven’t been able to confirm the amount of potential client losses, the person said. As much as 130 billion yen may be missing, the Nikkei reported.

MRI, founded in 1998, sells investment products that are related to the rights to collect medical service fees, according to its website. The products offer an annual return of as high as 8.5 percent, according to its Japanese website.

The SESC, the investigative arm of the FSA, suspects the company may have falsified performance reports, the Nikkei reported. MRI has collected 136.5 billion yen of assets from about 8,700 retail investors in Japan, according to the report.

To contact the reporters on this story: Takako Taniguchi in Tokyo at ttaniguchi4@bloomberg.net; Shigeru Sato in Tokyo at ssato10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net; Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

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