Photo/Illutration The Metropolitan Police Department’s headquarters (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The Metropolitan Police Department announced on Nov. 15 that officers arrested two men on suspicion of fraudulently receiving a COVID-19 relief subsidy through dummy companies.

The government subsidy was set up to help small and midsize businesses suffering financial hardship from the pandemic.

The suspects are Hiroshi Amano, 65, who resides in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, and Hiroki Isobe, 58, who lives in Minato Ward, according to police. Police have not yet determined the occupations of either of the men.

Police believe the duo received roughly 80 million yen ($702,000) in total since July last year by submitting some 40 subsidy applications for multiple dummy companies.

According to the MPD’s third organized crime control division, the two men are suspected of collaborating in applying for the subsidy in November last year, pretending to be associated with a company suffering a huge loss in sales due to the pandemic.

Police believe that as a result, they fraudulently received a 2 million yen grant in mid-March.

The company they used to apply for the grant is a fake company with no record of operation in the past 10 years.

The division has concluded from the investigation so far that the two men led a group of 10 people to commit the fraud.

Police will continue their investigation with the aim of identifying the other members, their roles in the group and to what extent they were involved with the fraud.