JICA steps up oversight efforts after embezzlement scandal

The Japan International Cooperation Agency logo on a plaque for a suspension bridge project the agency helped fund in Peru. Photo by: aka_lusi / CC BY-NC-SA

The recent arrest of an ex-Japan International Cooperation Agency official suspected of pocketing ODA funds in the Philippines has led the agency to carry out from now on extra overall checks on project budget processing at each overseas office, an agency spokesman said on Tuesday.

Yuho Hayakawa, JICA’s media director in Tokyo, told Devex that the agency has organized a new committee to work on formulating an action plan to prevent instances of fraud in the future.

Tokyo prosecutors on May 1 ordered the arrest of Japanese national Takashi Uchino for embezzling about ¥6 million ($60,630) in ODA funds between October 2011 to December 2012, when he was a project coordinator working on a JICA technical cooperation project in the health sector in the Philippines.

Prosecutors alleged that the 49-year-old Uchino used up to ¥3.5 million of the agency’s funds to pay for his condominium rental fee in Manila from November 2011 to October 2012, and deposited ¥2.51 million to a personal account in Japan in 13 installments.

Uchino, hired by JICA in September 2011, found his contract with the agency terminated in February 7 after an internal investigation revealed his fraudulent activities.

“His misuse of a part of the JICA’s project budget was found because of a delay in the routine submission of the project expenditure reports to JICA and their deficiencies,” said Hayakawa.

Improprieties were also exposed in several Japanese ODA loan projects in Vietnam in 2008, which led to the prosecution and conviction of the involved parties.

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About the author

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    Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covers the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business and the law.

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