Tokyo - Japan's Mizuho Financial Group Inc said Monday it had punished a total of 54 current and former executives over its loans to organised crime groups, but a third-party panel found no sign of a deliberate cover-up.
Mizuho Bank president Yasuhiko Sato said his salary would be cut for six months and other executives would step down from their posts or face pay reductions.
The scandal surfaced in late September when Japan's second-largest bank by assets was ordered to clean up its operations following an inspection by Japan's Financial Services Agency.
The agency found Mizuho had engaged in 230 transactions with gangsters involving more than 200 million yen (2 million dollars).
“I offer my sincere apologies for causing great trouble,” Sato told a news conference.
He added the management “deeply regrets” not doing enough to identify and eliminate “antisocial” groups from among its borrowers, the Kyodo News agency reported.
Sato conceded in early October that former president Satoru Nishibori had been aware of the loans in question since July 2010, reversing the bank's earlier claim. The president had also received materials that mentioned the problem more than two years earlier.
The third-party panel of lawyers earlier in the day criticised the bank for a lack of awareness in lending money to criminal gangs, but said they found no evidence that the bank intended to cover up the scandal. - Sapa-dpa