Predictive software that generated horseracing wins of 16 billion yen; a mysterious Briton who slipped away despite surrendering his passport; frustrated Japanese taxmen and a well timed death look like the ingredients for a great whodunnit novel, but according to the Asahi Shimbun its reality all the way.
The Japanese newspaper reported the case this week of an unnamed British man who used sophisticated predictive software to win some 16 billion yen on Tokyo horse races, failed to declare the rewards to the taxman and then vanished before officials could lay charges, arrest him and seize the cash.
The man, believed to have been a Hong Kong resident, has since been reported by the Tokyo-based data analyzing and consulting company UPRO that he led.... as dead! Furthermore, it is claimed that the wins were made in his personal capacity and noone has any idea where all that loot could be since it was transferred offshore and out of the reach of the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau.
The allegedly deceased Briton appears to have been at least one step ahead of the tax authorities in the case. Following a tax audit initiated in 2008 on suspicions that UPRO had failed to report taxable income under Japanese corporate tax law, the missing Briton was required to hand in his passport.
But it appears he immediately reported the travel document lost and obtained a new one...which he clearly used to good effect as the tax net closed around him.
According to the tax authorities, UPRO has been ordered to pay 6 billion yen in back taxes and penalties, but it is disputing this. The tax bureau has only been able to seize about 2 billion yen of the company assets, but sources told the Asahi Shimbun that it will be difficult to recover the remainder which the taxman claims is owed.
The newspaper points out that the failure of the tax gatherers shows that without the filing of a criminal complaint, tax officials are powerless to stop transfers of money overseas or prevent tax cheats from leaving Japan.
The UPRO software used by the missing Briton to make his big wins has not been identified, but apparently predicts the outcome of horse races, on which the Briton bet hundreds of millions of yen and consistently picked the winners. The wagering especially exploited the high-return Trifecta betting system, which involves correctly selecting the order of the three top finishing horses.
The computer program ranked, in order of probability, the finishing combinations of races in Japan, and bets were then placed - small bets on horses given the highest odds, and large sums on horses given the best odds to win.
In terms of a tax agreement between Japan and Britain, UK tax authorities may share information with their Japanese counterparts, but they may not take a British national into custody overseas, or seize that person's assets, over a case in Japan.