Seiko Noda, Japan’s internal affairs minister, has repudiated her association in a government investigation of a non-registered cryptocurrency exchange, reportedly on July 19.
The Financial Services Agency (FSA), in January, suspected that the Tokyo-based company was violating the law on payment services by engaging in non-registered cryptocurrency exchanges. The actual business of the company included planning but it began operating in its own digital token.
The agency requested the written response from the company. However, the company failed to respond to the given deadline, leading it to “report the matter to investigate authorities and take necessary steps.”
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper obtained a document with pieces of evidence showing that several days after the FSA issued warning, the minister’s office requested an explanation of the warning.
The office also lodged the agency about its plan to allow a representative from the company to attend the meeting, owing to the fact that the unnamed company consulted with Noda’s office over the case.
The minister, on Thursday, washed off the allegations by telling the media that the aim of the meeting was to get “an overall general account of cryptocurrency exchanges.”
The minister also claimed that she doesn’t have any interest in the alleged company and the briefing “obviously does not amount to exerting pressure.”
Additionally, she stated that she was not present at the meeting held on 30th January.
A representative from FSA visited Seiko Noda’s office to justify to the minister’s office and the mouthpiece of the company. The representative explained FSA’s grounds for the raising of funds by issuing cryptocurrency and other matters.
FSA didn’t hold its investigation after the meeting and ultimately advised the company to refrain from selling cryptocurrency, citing legal regulations in consideration with payment services.
A senior official from FSA stated that such a briefing from Noda’s office could be regarded as pressure from the minister. “A public servant will likely take it as pressure if an aide to a sitting Cabinet member calls for a meeting in which an employee of a company the agency is looking into is also present,” he remarked.
The minister noted that her assistant and an employee from the company knew each other. She was unaware of the warning by the agency against the company.
However, she did accept that the aide was present at the briefing.
It is not the first time any minister had risked their reputation to intervene into the investigations of government agencies.
Previously, Kozo Yamamoto and Jiro Hatoyama, the members of the Liberal Democratic Party of the Lower House have also raised questions about the briefing made by agencies like Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission and National Tax Agency.