Gambler to pay back Japanese Covid-19 fund he spent

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A man who gambled away a huge Covid-19 relief handout after receiving the money mistakenly says he will pay Japanese authorities back “bit by bit”, according to local media.

The man was mistakenly sent 46.3m yen ($357,400; £287,000) in April which was supposed to be shared among 463 people in a town in western Japan.

“I feel very sorry that I used it up,” the man said according to his lawyer.

The southern town of Abu is suing the man and is considering criminal action.

The bank transfer mistake happened when 463 low-income households were meant to receive a cash pay-out each as part of a government scheme to ease financial strain caused by the pandemic.

An investigation has since found that the man – who is reportedly 24 years old – withdrew 600,000 yen ($4,600; £3,700) every day for about two weeks, local media report.

When authorities finally contacted him, he said he no longer had the money.

On Tuesday the man’s lawyer said his client had used his smartphone to gamble it all away using online casino sites.

He initially said he would not return the money and town officials asked the man’s mother to visit him with them at work to convince him, but without success, Reuters reports.

As a result, the town decided to sue him in an attempt to get its money back.

However, in an about-turn, his lawyer said on Wednesday that his client had now made up his mind to return the money, according to reports.

Reacting to the news, town mayor Norihiko Hanada welcomed the decision but said that the town is not planning to withdraw the lawsuit.

“That’s one thing, and the lawsuit we’re filing against him is another thing, so I hope that he will tell the truth in court,” Mr Hanada is quoted as saying by Reuters.

Another set of 100,000 yen payments has been issued to the eligible households the Covid-19 fund was originally meant to help.

Source: BBC

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