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Mizuho Falls Most in Four Months on Gangster Loans: Tokyo Mover

Pedestrians walk past a branch of Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Tokyo. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
Pedestrians walk past a branch of Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Tokyo. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Mizuho Financial Group Inc. fell the most in almost four months in Tokyo trading after Japan’s banking regulator penalized the lender for dealing with organized crime groups.

The shares of Japan’s third-biggest bank by market value declined as much as 4.1 percent, the biggest drop since June 3, closing at 213 yen. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 2.1 percent.

The Financial Services Agency said on Sept. 27 it ordered Mizuho’s banking unit to strengthen legal compliance and controls after it failed to prevent more than two years of transactions with “anti-social” groups, a term commonly used in Japan to describe yakuza crime syndicates. Through consumer credit companies, Mizuho Bank Ltd. made 230 loans valued at about 200 million yen ($2 million), the FSA said.

Lending to mobsters “is negative in terms of Mizuho’s reputation and that’s why we’re seeing its shares falling,” said Shinichiro Nakamura, a Tokyo-based analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “This could happen to any other big lender in Japan as they have all probably made affiliated loans like these. The regulator just sent a wake-up call.”

Mizuho’s transactions with the groups, including gangs, were mostly automobile loans, an FSA official said at a news briefing in Tokyo on Sept. 27, asking not to be named in accordance with the agency’s policy.

“I don’t think the stock decline will last long because this won’t have an impact on the bank’s earnings,” Nakamura said.

Internal Penalties

Mizuho is considering penalties for some employees, including pay cuts, and will give further details in a report it plans to submit to the FSA by Oct. 28, said Masako Shiono, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman. The lender in response to the penalty has formed a committee to consider improvement measures and deal with any impact on its customers, she added.

Most of the loans investigated by the FSA were made through consumer credit companies, including Orient Corp., Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported.

Daisuke Muraoka, a spokesman for Orient, said the firm is reviewing the situation and conducts reviews to prevent transactions involving anti-social groups. Shares of Tokyo-based Orient dropped 4.6 percent to 270 yen.

Japanese authorities have stepped up efforts to combat yakuza gangs, whose activities range from extortion to fraud and money laundering, according to the National Police Agency. In the first penalty of its kind against a Japanese bank since 2007, the FSA told Mizuho to make a “clean break” from the groups.

Mizuho is now considering merging its client information system with those of consumer credit companies it works with in November to create better data system and prevent transactions with criminal groups, Shiono said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at thyuga@bloomberg.net; Monami Yui in Tokyo at myui1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

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