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Wife suspected of killing real estate mogul in Japan became company head in shady procedure

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mainichi– OSAKA — A 25-year-old woman who was recently arrested on suspicion of murdering her former husband — an elderly real estate mogul dubbed the “Don Juan of Kishu” — became president of the magnate’s company about two months after his sudden death in May 2018, and decided on her remuneration by herself, investigations have revealed.

A former auditing officer of the company has filed criminal charges against the former wife, Saki Sudo, 25, following the discovery of suspicious administrative procedures. Wakayama Prefectural Police are investigating the case.

Kosuke Nozaki died at the age of 77 in his house in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture on May 24, 2018, from acute stimulant intoxication. Sudo is suspected to have murdered him by having him ingest the stimulants in some way. While Wakayama Prefectural Police have not revealed whether Sudo has admitted to or denied the allegations against her, she had denied her involvement during voluntary questioning prior to her arrest.

According to the register of the financial and real estate firm formerly headed by Nozaki, Sudo was appointed to the post of president as Nozaki’s successor on July 30, 2018, about two months after he died.

The suspect sent a document dated July 4 to Nozaki’s relatives who were entitled to rights as heirs, expressing her wish to hold discussions July 8 on the nature of inheritance of all company shares in Nozaki’s possession, as well as voting rights at general shareholders’ meetings, a lawyer representing the former auditor said.

However, it appears that the other relatives did not participate in the discussion. Sudo, who deemed that the relatives had entrusted her to handle administrative procedures, created minutes saying that she held an extraordinary general shareholder’s meeting on July 30 at Nozaki’s house. Sudo, who was the only one present, served as the chair, and appointed herself as the company’s representative director. She also passed a proposal setting the total amount of annual remuneration for board members at “170 million yen (about $1.56 million) or below.”

According to the auditor’s lawyer, in September 2018, around 38 million yen (about $348,000) was transferred to the suspect’s bank account from the company’s account, supposedly as part of her remuneration.

Japan’s Companies Act states that general shareholders’ meetings are to be summoned upon a resolution by the board of directors, or by stockholders who obtain permission from a judicial court.

The former auditor accused Sudo of swindling the company out of capital by posing as the new president after holding a general shareholders’ meeting without following the above procedures, and filed criminal fraud charges against her, which were received by prefectural police in July 2020.

Meanwhile, in connection with inheritance issues, including the succession of Nozaki’s company shares, a document which reads, “All assets shall be donated to the city of Tanabe,” was found following Nozaki’s death. Legal proceedings with regard to the document’s validity are ongoing.