Lamentation of a victim who attended the first trial of a defendant who had a 400 million yen class car delivery trouble. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Lamentation of a victim who attended the first trial of a defendant who had a 400 million yen class car delivery trouble.

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Toru Kotani, former owner of Dunamis Racing

On February 27, the first trial was held at the Nagano District Court for Toru Kotani, the former president of Dunamis Racing, who was charged with fraud in connection with the fraudulent purchase of a new car by the company. Kotani, who entered the court in a wheelchair, admitted the indictment, saying, “There is no doubt. As shown in the photo above, Kotani had no trace of his energetic days, and his unkempt hair, which was a mixture of gray and brown hair that had been dyed gray, made him look older than he actually was.

According to the indictment and other documents, Kotani lied about his intent to order and deliver the car, and his inability to pay, and defrauded a man in his 30s in Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture of 3.2 million yen, a man in his 40s in Suzaka City of 4 million yen, and a woman in her 30s, C, of 2 million yen between November 2021 and January 2010. According to the prosecution’s opening statement, the defendant

According to the prosecution’s opening statement, Dunamis Racing, which was founded in 1995, has been operating at a loss since 2007, and as of 2013, it was no longer able to obtain new loans from its main bank. Multiple cases began to occur per year.

In 2020, the new coronavirus spread and Kotani suffered a stroke at the end of the same year, which further deteriorated the business. Around the spring of the following year, 2009, the company began borrowing money from money lenders, and by October of the same year, the company’s outstanding debt amounted to 48 million yen. It was also revealed at the trial that the money transferred from customers was immediately used to repay the loan sharks and to refund other customers.

Victim B, who visited the trial on February 27 to observe the first trial and paid 4 million yen to Kotani, reveals, “Today is the first day I meet with President Kotani.

Today was the first time I met President Kotani. My impression was that he was a ‘yobo-yobo’ old man. He didn’t show any remorse for the victims and seemed like a pain in the ass. I felt that he had a meeting with his lawyer to discuss the story, as if he would receive leniency if he honestly admitted his guilt. There was also a sense of relief after escaping from the loan sharks. The thought of going to jail, eating three meals a day, and being free from debt collection and at peace made me mad.

I decided to buy the car after calling him through an acquaintance, but I never ended up meeting him until we met at the trial. Several times I offered to President Kotani, ‘It’s a big amount of money and it’s important, so I’d like to meet with you to talk about it,’ but he said, ‘I can’t meet with you right now because of the Corona. He said, ‘I can’t meet with you at Corona right now, and I’m communicating with you all by phone and e-mail,’ so I couldn’t meet with him. I want you to return my money, even if it is only 1,000 yen or 10,000 yen. I want you to show me your sincerity. I want you to give me the heaviest punishment you can.”

Of course, Mr. A, Ms. B, and Mr. C are not the only ones who have paid money to Dunamis Racing but have not received their cars… FRIDAY Digital has interviewed more than 100 people who have had problems with the delivery of their cars, as well as acquaintances and friends who loaned money to Mr. Kotani and have not received it back. When the number of victims including acquaintances, friends, former employees, and landlords of stores and factories who had lent money to Kotani and not returned it, the total number of victims is estimated to be more than 200.

The victims purchased many minivans and SUVs, including the Toyota Alphard, which costs 4-5 million yen, the Toyota Harrier, the Suzuki Spacia, which costs 1.5 million yen, and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, which costs about 15 million yen. The total damage was estimated to be as much as 400 million yen.

Defendant Toru Kotani when the business was doing well (photo provided by victim)

Why are these three the only victims at this point? The common denominator is the timing of the three purchases. All of them made payments between November 2021 and January 2022. Kotani had “run away in the night” at the end of December 2021. A person who has known Kotani for a long time revealed the following.

It is known that at the end of 2021, a black-money trader broke into Kotani’s house and went on a rampage. Kotani, feeling that he was in danger, rushed to the police for protection, but the police would not deal with him, and of course, he was not protected. Kotani, who no longer had a place where he could live peacefully, must have decided to “run away at night.

For a while after he “ran away in the night,” Kotani was seen at supermarkets and in front of his house, but from the spring of 2022, he was never seen again. He was arrested on October 26 of the same year, about 10 months after he “ran away in the night. The location was not Nagano, where the store was located, but in Saitama Prefecture, where he was hiding out.

In other words, the three victims who are being considered as victims in this trial are the three people who were clearly caught in the “Dunamis Racing’s financial difficulties, and who clearly had no intention of delivering the cars even after receiving money from customers”. Victims who made payments around 2020 “have reported the damage to the police but have not even been told the details,” he said.

A man, Mr. D, who was not identified as a victim by the court but was present at the first trial, has known Kotani for more than 30 years, and his two sons bought cars from Kotani around 2020. He is still angry and regretful that he was betrayed.

To be honest, I felt like punching him in the face with my two sons,” he said. I thought that if I ran out on him now, it would be national news. I don’t even feel good that Kotani is alive. I talked about it with my sons, but I’d still rather have him die than give up. I could have imagined what he would look like, so I wasn’t too surprised. But at 63 years old, it was a foolish thing to do. He took away people’s dreams, hopes, and even money. The car was never delivered after all. My sons are working all the time to pay back the loan because of the money Kotani spent. Even if I wanted to forget, I couldn’t.

(Kotani) doesn’t pay back the money and doesn’t work. He got away with it…is this really possible? When I think back on the poor treatment of the victims by the police, I am also angry. I am very angry that they were upset and made me more frustrated and anxious. The bank needs to do a better job of investigating the borrower and the payee. I hope that the bank will do a thorough investigation of the whole situation, including the flow of money in this case.

The next trial, including a follow-up indictment, is scheduled for April 27, and we wonder if the anger of Mr. D and the other victims, who have been forced to cry themselves to sleep, will ever subside.

LINE (provided by the car buyer) in which Kotani told the car buyer that he was going to be hospitalized.
LINE indicated its intention to reopen the store once the renewal was completed at the end of February ’22; in the end, Kotani disappeared without reopening the store (courtesy of the car buyer).
In 2011, when he was 52 years old, he ran for the Nagano City Council election but lost badly. From that time on, his business condition deteriorated (courtesy of the car buyer).
Inside the store when the business was on track. Inside the Dunamis Racing store, with the slogan “Let’s play more with cars,” the company motto, a certificate of commendation from the Nagano District Transport Bureau, and many order forms.
Photo of the Dunamis Racing store taken in early 2010 (courtesy of the car buyer).
The former site of Dunamis Racing was demolished last summer and turned into a fried chicken restaurant.
  • Interview and text Kumiko Kato

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