Brunei Scam Takes In Hiroshima Survivor
SNA (Tokyo) — Businessman Toshikazu Matsumoto survived the horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, but he counted himself the victim of scam artists who fleeced him of large sums of money shortly before he died of cancer. According to his son, Toshiaki, Matsumoto’s deepest wish as he lay on his deathbed was that the con men be brought to justice and his money returned. In fact, however, Mr. Matsumoto died before closure had been brought to case, and the alleged perpetrators remain free to the current day.
Matsumoto, whose entire family perished on August 6, 1945, while he was evacuated outside his native Hiroshima, saw his business fortunes take a turn for the worse when, in 2007, he met a man named Sadamiki Takashima. At the time, Matsumoto was the president of a company specialized in selling medical equipment to clinics and hospitals.
Mr. Takashima, who presented himself as a businessman and a director of a company called Sunrise Tech, convinced Matsumoto that there were great opportunities to be had in Brunei, a small and rich Southeast Asian state. They travelled there together, and in the Brunei airport, Matsumoto met for the first time Mr. Takashima’s colleague, P. G. Bahrin, whom he later claimed was the central figure in an elaborate confidence scheme.
The dying Mr. Matsumoto accused Takashima and Bahrin of making three separate attempts to squeeze money from his bank accounts. The first of these schemes was the largest. Bahrin explained that there would be major oil and housing developments in Kampung Lugu, a rural area within Brunei, and that Matsumoto was needed to recruit Japanese residential development firms to participate in these construction projects. He gathered dozens of Japanese businesspeople to provide start-up funds for the various projects. Matsumoto was also to be involved in the construction of a national cancer treatment center.
The second scheme began when Bahrin invited Mr. Matsumoto and his colleagues into a giant parking garage filled with luxury automobiles. Bahrin claimed to be well connected with Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, and allegedly said that he had been provided the rights to sell the automobiles abroad. Matsumoto was promised a handsome commission for assisting such sales in Japan, in return for an upfront 7 million yen (US$70,000) fee.
The third and final scheme related to an extensive property owned by Prince Jefri in the Daikanyama district of Tokyo. Matsumoto was engaged to negotiate with Japanese general contractors for the development of the valuable property, and in fact he came close to facilitating a deal whereby an apartment building would be built there. Bahrin then allegedly explained that he needed to travel to the United Kingdom to receive Prince Jefri’s final authorization to the sell the property and that he needed 10 million yen (US$100,000) for travel expenses. Matsumoto paid out that sum, but only by selling his own company headquarters.
Shortly after handing over that final sum of money, both Bahrin and Takashima disappeared. Eventually, Matsumoto and his colleagues came to believe that they had been victims of an elaborate fraud. That was in 2008.
Flabbergasted by this turn of events, Matsumoto and others who believed they had been scammed went to the authorities, including their local police department in Osaka and the Embassy of Brunei in Tokyo.
To their disappointment, however, there did not seem to be any effective action by the authorities on their case, and their anger grew. Eventually, by 2014, they had taken their campaign for justice to the internet. In their view, responsibility for the alleged scams was shared by the government and royal family of Brunei. (They accepted Bahrin’s claim that he was connected to the royal family).
It appears that it was this element—public accusations against the royal family—that drew the deeper attention of the authorities in Brunei.
In November 2014, Matsumoto’s son, Toshiaki, received a message from the Brunei embassy explaining, “we would like first and foremost to clear the misunderstanding that the accused, Mr. Pg Hj Kamarul Bahrin has any relations to the Brunei Darussalam Royal Family. Mr. Pg Hj Kamarul Bahrin does not have any connection to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and does not, in any way, represent the members of the Brunei Darussalam Royal Family.”
By the end of that same month, Toshiaki Matsumoto began a long e-mail dialogue with Izzaldin Osman, Assistant Superintendent, Criminal Investigation Department of the Royal Brunel Police Force. In a highly professional and courteous manner, Officer Osman began to collect information from the alleged victims and launched an investigation into Bahrin’s local financial transactions.
Within months, however, Officer Osman’s investigation was hampered from several directions. First of all, he had difficulty communicating with the Japanese victims whose English-language skills were quite rudimentary. Second, he appears to have failed to convince the alleged victims that he was acting vigorously enough and that Bahrin was not being protected by high-level connections within the Brunei government. Finally, Officer Osman received little cooperation from the Osaka Police Department which was handling the matter on the Japan side.
In fact, after being kept waiting for information for about nine months, when the response from the Japanese police finally arrived, it was only that, as Officer Osman explained, “The NPA [National Police Agency] has also requested that we refrain from any further independent contact with any victims or suspects in Japan.”
Officer Osman remained in sporadic e-mail contact with Toshiaki Matsumoto, but thereafter he was clearly being restrained in how much help he could offer.
His local efforts, however, appeared quite energetic. He wrote in April 2015, “We must remind you again that we are NOT protecting Pg Bahrin. He has been under investigation by us since last year and has been coming to the office for interviews many times. We are under strict instructions to pursue this case to the fullest extent.”
As for P. G. Bahrin, himself, he has made no public comments about the charges of fraud that have been made against him. However, in an e-mail he sent to Toshiaki Matsumoto in August 2013, he wrote as follows:
I read all about your accusation in the internet. Please be inform I am not a scammer or trouble maker.I am not the person who take people money for nothing!. I know all about you!. I will take personal legal action against you soon. All those accusation and involving Brunei Loyal King in web site (internet) is a sin in the heart of your Japan Emperor. If you believe I am wrong or a Scammer lets fight !..
Efforts by the SNA to directly contact Mr. Bahrin through his personal e-mail address have not been successful. Mr. Takashima, alleged to be his Japanese accomplice, is said to have disappeared from public view. Neither the Brunei embassy nor Officer Osman of the Royal Brunel Police Force responded to our requests for statements.
In the end, Toshikazu Matsumoto did not survive to see resolution of the matter. In his own account as he lay dying, however, he wrote, “I and my company have fallen into terrible financial circumstances due to the fraud of Mr. P. G. Bahrin. My health condition has deteriorated in recent days. Medical tests have informed me that I have become afflicted by cancer caused by overwork and stress. I am fighting against the disease.”
Toshikazu Matsumoto passed away on March 5 of this year.
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