December 28, 2018 Update: There is an updated version of this article with the results of the independent audit committee’s findings on the TATERU apartment investment loan document forging case.
In the wake of the Suruga Bank scandal, TATERU Inc., a Tokyo-based real estate company listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, has admitted to tampering with a customer’s loan documents in order to make the mortgage application more likely to pass underwriting. This is according to various news outlets, including Asahi Shinbun Digital edition and Nikkei Shinbun online.
In the incident, an employee of TATERU Inc. tampered with the screen displaying his client’s internet banking account balance to make it appear that he had a much higher balance than he actually did.
According to the victim’s lawyer, the client submitted a copy of his bank account statement to an employee of TATERU Inc. as part of a mortgage loan application to buy an investment apartment property valued at 110 million JPY (about 990,000 USD). The news about the Suruga Bank document forging scandal broke after the client submitted his application. According to the lawyer, this news unsettled his client, which led him to directly contact the lender, Yamaguchi prefecture-based Saikyo Bank. It was at this point that the forgery became apparent. The TATERU Inc. employee had altered the document detailing the client’s bank account balance to show that he had 6,230,000JPY in the account rather than the actual amount of 230,000JPY.
As a result, the loan application and contract to purchase the property were both cancelled.
TATERU Inc. has admitted to this illicit action on the part of its employee and has announced that it is currently conducting an internal audit to see if other application documents have been similarly forged. In a statement published on its corporate website, TATERU Inc. states that in accordance with the contract the client signed, the company has cancelled the purchase agreement and has remitted 1 million JPY to the client, which is double the amount of his deposit. In addition, the company is in communication with the client regarding possible additional compensation.
Saikyo Bank has said that its employees were not involved in document forgery and that it is also conducting an internal investigation to see if it has ever made an illegal financial transaction in connection with TATERU Inc.
Top image: Stock photo of Tokyo buildings