Comedians pocketed up to ?1 million from alleged crime group

Thirteen comedians who recently took flak for secretly performing at a party hosted by a purported crime group, received between 1 million yen and several tens of thousands of yen from the group in remuneration, their agent said Saturday.
The largest sum of 1 million yen was paid out to Hiroyuki Miyasako, while Ryo Tamura received 500,000 yen, Yoshimoto Kogyo Co said. The remaining 11 entertainers received less than 100,000 yen each.
The entertainment powerhouse indefinitely suspended the 13 in late June after celebrity gossip magazine Friday carried an article saying the comedians, without their agent's consent, performed at a party organized by a group involved in a large-scale scam in December 2014.
Targeting elderly people across the nation, the group is believed to have swindled them out of more than 4 billion yen through telephone calls, the magazine said.
Yoshimoto Kogyo said none of the 13 comedians had reported the remunerations in their tax returns and they all recently amended their reports to tax authorities.
The company also donated 3 million yen to two nonprofit groups advocating consumer protection, it said.
The talent agency, which manages some 6,000 show business people, will require all of them to report requests for a performance they receive directly from clients.
It plans to exchange documents with its talent to this effect by the end of July, it said.
The scandal came to light eight years after Shinsuke Shimada, one of the country's highest-paid TV show hosts managed by Yoshimoto Kogyo, retired from the entertainment industry in August 2011 due to his close ties with a yakuza organized crime group member.
Comedians are fixtures on Japanese television programs, with many regularly appearing on variety shows and other programs as performers and presenters.

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