US slaps sanctions on Yakuza crime syndicate newcomer, Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi

The move freezes any US assets of the organization and three of its bosses and prevents US financial institutions from doing business with them

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 December, 2016, 6:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 December, 2016, 10:31pm

The US on Friday took aim at a relative newcomer to Japan’s Yakuza crime network, slapping financial sanctions on the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi network it says uses legitimate businesses to launder money.

The move freezes any US assets of the organization and three of its bosses and prevents US financial institutions from doing business with them, in another step by the US Treasury Department’s to cut off Yakuza financing and profit centres.

“This action reflects Treasury’s ongoing commitment to protect the US and international financial systems from the malign influence” of transnational criminal organisations, senior Treasury official John Smith said in a statement.

This action reflects Treasury’s ongoing commitment to protect the US and international financial systems from the malign influence [of transnational criminal organisations]
senior U.S. Treasury official John Smith

Treasury sanctioned the breakaway Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, which formed in September 2015 when 13 subsidiary gangs, split from their parent syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, to form their own Yakuza group.

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The new group took about 30 per cent of Yamaguchi-gumi membership, and now has roughly 7,000 members. The split sparked a turf war in Japan where the groups have traded molotov cocktails, according to news reports.

Treasury had already sanctioned the Yamaguchi-gumi in February 2012, and this action brings the total of Yakuza targeted by sanctions to 17 individuals and seven entities.

Treasury says the Yakuza has relationships with criminal affiliates in Asia, Europe and the Americas, where it uses front companies in legitimate industries, including construction, real estate, and finance, to launder money and hide illicit proceeds.

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In the United States, the Yakuza has been involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

The new sanctions apply to Kunio Inoue, leader of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi syndicate and Yamaken-gumi subsidiary gang.

Also sanctioned is Osamu Teraoka, the wakagashira (lieutenant) of the main group and head of the Kyoyu-kai subsidiary gang; and Takashi Ikeda, who holds a key leadership position in the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and is head of the affiliated Ikeda-gumi gang.