City sues man for refusing to pay back 46 million yen he got by mistake

ABU, Yamaguchi Prefecture – Abu City filed a lawsuit in a district court on May 12, demanding that a resident return 46.3 million yen ($356,656) in COVID financial relief -19 deposited into his account by mistake and pays the legal fees.

But the 24-year-old who received the money refused to pay it back, according to city officials.

“We will do everything we can to recover the large amount of public money that is important to our residents,” Mayor Norihiko Hanada said after a May 12 city assembly meeting where a motion to file a civil suit was adopted unanimously.

Authorities filed a lawsuit for restitution later the same day with the Hagi Branch of the Yamaguchi District Court, demanding payment of approximately 51.16 million yen, including legal fees.

City officials said the man moved there from another part of the prefecture in October 2020. He lived alone in Abu while working at a shop in the prefecture, although the man recently resigned from his job.

Officials said his whereabouts are currently unknown and they have not been able to contact him.

The central government has extended the special temporary cash benefit to households exempt from residence tax to help those struggling due to the economic difficulties caused by the pandemic. The payment itself, however, is made by the municipalities.

The financial mess happened on April 8, when the city sent grants of 100,000 yen to 463 households. But he accidentally transferred 46.3 million yen to just one of those households.

Officials immediately realized the mistake. The same day, they contacted the man and his bank. They visited him again on April 21 to advance the process of returning the money.

“All the funds had been transferred to an account at another financial institution,” he reportedly told them. “I cannot return the money to the original account. I will make amends for my crime.

An investigation revealed that more than 600,000 yen had been withdrawn from his account on the day he received the 46.3 million yen, officials said.

The rest of the funds were frequently transferred to other bank accounts for electronic card payments and other purposes. Almost all the money disappeared from his account in about two weeks.

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