The Tokyo District Court ordered leaders and members of an organized crime syndicate to pay 170 million yen ($1.61 million) to victims of a swindle that was partly ordered through implied threats.

The Sept. 25 ruling held the leaders and members of the Tokyo-based crime syndicate Sumiyoshi-kai responsible for effectively ordering their minions and nonmembers to defraud elderly women in the Kanto and Chugoku regions.

The victims were deceived into buying corporate bonds of a fictitious company in 2014, and each of them lost between 7.5 million yen and 74 million yen in the swindle, the ruling said.

According to lawyers for the plaintiffs, it is the fourth ruling of a district court that ordered top leaders of a gang to pay compensation in a lawsuit of that kind, and the compensation amount ordered on Sept. 25 is the largest among the four rulings.

In the Tokyo District Court lawsuit, seven women had demanded about 200 million yen in compensation from former Sumiyoshi-kai leader Hareaki Fukuda, now a special adviser to the gang, current chief Isao Seki and three other members.

Yakuza bosses have often escaped responsibility by denying any connection to the actions of their subordinates. In the fraud case raised in the lawsuit, actions, such as calling the targets and collecting the money, were carried out by minions or nonmembers.

The district court ruled that the gang members directed lower-level members to commit fraud and forced the nonmembers to participate in the crime just by mentioning that they were gangsters.

The judge said their malicious actions matched “behavior to obtain money by taking advantage of the threats of a gang group” under the anti-organized crime law.