Billionaire's arrest could affect Hawaii property

Billionaires arrest could affect Hawaii property
Published: Mar. 5, 2013 at 10:55 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2013 at 1:46 AM HST
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Genshiro Kawamoto (in pink shirt)
Genshiro Kawamoto (in pink shirt)
Andrew Daisuke Stewart
Andrew Daisuke Stewart

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Japanese investor Genshiro Kawamoto got some foreign treatment from authorities in his home country.  He was arrested on tax evasion charges and remains in custody. Some of the money involved is allegedly linked to Hawaii.

Nippon Television Network in Japan reports Kawamoto has been denied bail and could spend the next four weeks in custody for failing to pay nearly $9 million in taxes.

Genshiro Kawamoto often has a smile on his face, but the real estate investor who was listed as one of the richest people in the world, has been arrested.  Japanese media report he hid $30 million in rent money in Tokyo and failed to pay $9 million in taxes.

The allegation is he used some of that money to buy statues and other items for his Kahala properties.  Kawamoto owns $150 million worth of mostly ocean front land on Kahala Avenue.  Some of them have dozens of statues in front.  Others have been trashed, which is why some neighbors would like nothing more than to see him busted.

According to attorneys if Kawamoto were convicted the Japanese government could try to seize some of the Hawaii property.

"It happens all the time. It's not very uncommon although it can take time to serve the complaint," said Andrew Daisuke Stewart, Showa Law Office Attorney.  "They would still have to follow U.S. law and go through the procedures to do that.  They can't just come here and seize property like the FBI."

Lawyers say it would be easier to do because Kawamoto placed all 27 of his properties in his own name, not a corporation.

"If you own property in your personal name it's much more susceptible to having it seized or having liens placed on it by your creditors," said Stewart.  "If there is a judgment against you personally and you have assets in your name it's much easier to reach those as opposed to having title in a corporate entity name."

Kawamoto has denied any wrongdoing.  He told Nippon TV he doesn't need to evade the law because he's one of the richest men in Japan.

Kawamoto pays about half a million dollars a year in property tax on his Kahala homes. He is current on all his taxes in Hawaii and he is not on the delinquent rolls on state taxes as well.  However he still owes the City $1,000 for a litter and overgrowth fine on one property.

"It's too early to comment on how Mr. Kawamoto's legal problems in Japan will impact his properties in Hawaii. DPP has not received any information or requests for assistance from the Japanese government.  However, DPP's records and files regarding Mr. Kawamoto's properties and violations are public records. We will provide this information to the Japanese government if requested," said George Atta, Director Designate, Department of Planning and Permitting.

Attorneys say $9 million isn't going break Kawamoto however he travels to Hawaii often and if he is convicted it could affect his visa status and travel privileges.

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