Photo/Illutration The town of Abu’s municipal office (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

ABU, Yamaguchi Prefecture--The town of Abu has recovered 35 million yen ($274,797) of the 46.3 million yen it had mistakenly sent to a lone resident’s bank account, according to municipal sources.

Sho Taguchi, 24, who received the massive remittance through the town's clerical error, had transferred 43 million yen to three online payment service agencies from his bank account over a series of 29 transfers, according to his lawyer.

The three online payment service agencies are all believed to have business ties with online casino sites.

According to sources at the town office, Taguchi had transferred more than 35 million yen to one of the agencies through 27 remittances. But the agency returned the full amount to the town’s account on May 20 after police arrested Taguchi on suspicion of committing computer fraud for transferring at least some of the funds to a company despite knowing the funds had been sent to him by mistake.

In April, a town official had accidentally sent Taguchi a lump-sum payment of 46.3 million yen, in addition to the 100,000-yen COVID-19 relief subsidy it was handing out to 463 households in the community.

But Taguchi refused to pay back the funds and, according to his lawyer, claimed he had already gambled the money away. Taguchi had also told prefectural police that he lost all the funds on overseas casino websites.

But the town’s mayor believes the truth is being obscured and that the town may still be able to recover more of the funds.

“I don’t believe the lawyer’s claim that he lost it all through online gambling,” said Abu Mayor Norihiko Hanada. “It could be possible that the funds are still somewhere in his accounts. We would like to find them and get back the full amount.”

When his lawyer said Taguchi was willing to return the funds, he had no personal financial assets.