Police have arrested the now-ex-president of a card trading business. The charge? Scamming his own company to pay for vacations with women and fund his luxurious lifestyle.
Last week’s arrest
Tokyo Metropolitan Police 2nd Investigation Division arrested Nishiura Keiichiro, 48. Nishiura is the former company president of card trading company C-Labo, founded in 2004. Police arrested him for violating the Companies Act on November 15th.
Nishiura, a Koto Ward resident, reportedly stole ¥180 million ($1,203,015 USD) from his now-former employer. C-Labo is an associate company of anime retail company Animate.
Nishiura reportedly cooked the books to fake a company purchase of over 40 thousand secondhand anime trading cards from a male accomplice. The fake purchase included Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. Market value and trading prices of cards sky-rocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the target of numerous major theft cases.
Nishiura used his accomplice’s name to forge a billing statement to send to C-Labo’s accountant.
C-Labo made a cash transfer to the male seller’s bank account totaling ¥180 million, of which ¥160 million Nishiura received. The remaining ¥20 million (USD $134,795) remained in the account of the accomplice as a “handling fee.”
Nishiura was president for six years from March of 2016. Police allege he committed similar crimes against C-Labo on seventy occasions between May of 2019 and April of last year.
As of October 2021, Nishiura had hidden ¥153 million of corporate income. He’s also suspected of evading paying ¥45 million in corporate tax.
Nishiura personally gained a total of ¥250 million through his schemes against C-Labo. The company runs about 35 stores nationwide with an annual revenue of ¥4.5 billion.
Nishiura admitted to his wrongdoings during C-Labo’s internal investigations. That prompted the National Tax Agency to open its own investigation into his crimes. The agency indicted Nishiura on suspicions of violating the Corporation Tax Act at the Tokyo District Court in December last year.
Where did the money go?
“[Nishiura] spent it on hotels, expensive wine, traveling overseas with women, luxury cars, and paying his own rent. I think that he spent at least ¥100 million.” said a reporter at news site Friday Digital.
In light of its ex-president’s extensive crimes, C-Labo released a statement. “[C-Labo] offers its apologies to namely our customers and trading partners, but also everyone who has relations [with C-Labo] for imposing a great burden and concern.”
Card trading industry is profitable and vulnerable
The starting price for Pokémon cards is several hundred yen. However, rare and limited editions can be worth ¥600 thousand if not more, according to one store manager.
The manager runs a store in Kumamoto Prefecture targeted earlier this year by thieves, who stole 600 cards. The total damage of the card theft was around ¥6.5 million (USD $). That includes around ¥130 that they stole from the store register.
Even a single card can be worth a fortune. Security experts say that makes them an ideal target for theft and related crimes.
 人気の「トレカ」販売会社と前社長を脱税容疑で告発、法人税約4500万円税か. 読売新聞
 女性と海外の豪華ホテルで…トレカ販売会社・前社長「『ポケモン』で1.8億円詐欺」衝撃の素顔写真. Yahoo!ニュースJAPAN
 Pokemon cards rise in popularity among collectors and thieves. The Asahi Shimbun