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"Cult foots bill for family's splurge"

("Asahi Shimbun," July 11, 2000)

The family of former cult leader Hogen Fukunaga spent 1.83 billion yen of the 95 billion yen the Ho no Hana Sanpogyo foot cult swindled from its followers, police sources said Monday.
The sources said police have managed to account for nearly all of the 95 billion yen in revenue the cult collected between 1987 and 1999. The group was recognized as a religious organization in 1987.
Tokyo prosecutors indicted 14 cult staff members on charges of fraud at the Tokyo District Court on Monday, having wrapped up their investigation of the cult. A total of 19 cult members have been arrested.
The cult gathered 85 billion yen from followers in the form of training fees and from sales of hanging scrolls and other expensive cult items. It raised an additional 10 billon yen from its 24 affiliates, the sources said.
The cult's largest expenditure was the 30 billion yen it spent on buying land and building its headquarters in Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, and on its facility in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. That was followed by 20 billion yen spent on staff wages and in the operation of facilities, including rent for Fukunaga's apartment.
Police sources said Fukunaga and his wife spent 490 million yen from cult revenue over six years to buy hundreds of bags, about 300 shoes and brand products.
The couple spent about 250 million yen staying at expensive hotels, paying as much as 500,000 yen a night.
The cult paid for karaoke lessons for Fukunaga's wife and the rent of his girlfriend's home.
One cult staff member received a 380 million yen reward for luring in many followers.

"Ho-no-Hana collected 95 bil. yen from '84 to '99"

("Yomiuri Shimbun," July 8, 2000)

The Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo religious group was discovered to have amassed 95 billion yen from 1984 to 1999, of which as much as 3 billion yen was appropriated by the group's founder, Hogen Fukunaga, and his family members for private use, a source close to police said Friday.
Police had already been aware that most of the funds collected by the group were used to purchase real estate and issue loans to cult-affiliated companies.
A joint investigation squad of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Shizuoka prefectural police recently discovered that Fukunaga, 55, used group funds to pay his hotel bills and his wife's shopping expenses, according to the source.
Fukunaga and other executive members of the group are currently under arrest on charges of swindling money from cult followers.
According to police, the group's total income since 1984 through November last year, recorded in the group's accounting books and other documents, totals as much as about 95 billion yen, of which 80 percent--or about 76 billion yen--was collected after 1994.
Of the total, about 85 billion yen was accumulated through training fees and proceeds from the sales of high-priced items, such as scrolls, to followers. The remaining 10 billion yen was amassed through business profits, including sales of publications, of affiliated companies.
Meanwhile, group funds used by members of Fukunaga's family totaled about 2.96 billion yen between January 1994 and late last year.
Fukunaga spent about 2 billion yen on himself, which included 2 million yen per month to rent a luxurious condominium in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, hotel bills for executive suite rooms costing 500,000 yen per night and monthly condominium rental fees for his mistress, according to the source.
Money earned by the religious group was also used to pay for karaoke lessons for Fukunaga's wife, 41, who was hoping to release a compact disc, the source said.
In addition, about 27 billion yen was spent to purchase property, including prime real estate in Shibuya Ward, and 18 billion yen was offered to affiliates as loans. In addition, about 480 million yen was spent to produce a promotional film for the group, the source said.

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Revised last: 11-07-2000