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AIJ’s Asakawa Declines Request to Speak to Diet Over Losses

AIJ Investment Advisors Co. President Kazuhiko Asakawa declined a request to appear before a parliamentary committee seeking answers over how the suspended fund manager lost as much as $2 billion of pension money.

“Unfortunately I am unable to take up the offer,” Asakawa said, according to a faxed statement read by Banri Kaieda, chairman of the lower house financial committee, to reporters in Tokyo today. Asakawa wrote that he is busy compiling information requested by the government’s financial watchdog, Kaieda said.

Asakawa’s reply is his first statement to be made public since the Financial Services Agency suspended AIJ on Feb. 24 for a month to find out what happened to the 185.3 billion yen ($2.3 billion) of pension assets managed by his firm. The case has prompted the regulator to embark on its widest investigation of asset managers in the country and spurred politicians to consider increased oversight of the industry.

The FSA’s investigative arm, the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission, “is still continuing its inspection,” Asakawa wrote, according to Kaieda. “I am busy as we are preparing documents to detail the assets under management by the March 23 deadline,” Kaieda quoted Asakawa as saying.

Tokyo-based AIJ told regulators that its assets under management have dwindled to about 24 billion yen, including 4 billion yen in cash and deposits, a government official said last week on condition of anonymity.

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