FUKUOKA – The personal information of 169 customers who each have over ¥100 million deposited in the Bank of Saga was likely stolen by a former employee and handed to a group of suspected criminals, bank officials said Monday.
The former employee, Atsushi Yoshida, 42, is on trial over a separate theft but was found to have conducted database searches for the information in question, which he later copied illegally.
Yoshida allegedly handed the information to members of a group who were arrested for robberies at Saga Bank’s branches last year in the city of Fukuoka.
The stolen data includes names, addresses, account balances and phone numbers of clients who are mostly residents of Saga and Fukuoka prefectures. But Yoshida did not access their account numbers or personal identification numbers.
No thefts involving the account holders have been reported, though the group may have investigated the wealthy depositors with the aim of targeting them for robberies, police said.
The bank’s database is accessed by employees in their daily activities, but police suspect Yoshida conducted specific searches for personal information to provide it to the group. The police were able to verify that his database searches from last July corresponded with the stolen information.
The police only became aware of the stolen information when the data, listed on three sheets of paper, was submitted to them by the lawyer of another defendant.
Eleven suspects have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in two robberies at Bank of Saga branches in Fukuoka between last August and October that resulted in the theft of ¥54.30 million.
The police suspect Yoshida offered the information to the group in exchange for erasing his debts to a group member who was running a loan shark operation.
Bank of Saga President Yoshihiro Jinnouchi apologized Monday at a news conference.
“As a financial institution that requires high ethical standards and credibility, we deeply reflect on (the matter) and extend an apology to our clients,” Jinnouchi said.