Japan's NHK ordered to pay penalty taxes

Pubcaster faces penalty after report on employees

TOKYO -- Pubcaster NHK faces further finance-related troubles on two fronts as it was ordered to pay 1.46 billion yen ($14 million) in penalty taxes on Wednesday, a day after a report was released suggesting more inappropriate stock dealing by its employees.

The penalty charges are related to sales tax on nearly 28 billion yen ($266 million) in unpaid viewing fees that are owed to NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.). The fees have to be unpaid for over a year before NHK can deduct them from its income, a rule the Tokyo Tax Bureau said the corporation hadn't followed in its tax returns.

An investigation, set up after an insider trading scandal involving three employees that broke this year, has revealed that 81 employees had traded stocks during work hours, including some who had done so around the time of breaking news stories that could have influenced equity prices.

"There were 52 employees who had traded stocks before or after news reports that might have affected share prices, but the investigation did not find any evidence of insider trading," NHK spokesperson Naoko Sakamoto told The Hollywood Reporter.

The investigation had no legal power, and of the 2,724 NHK employees who admitted owning stocks, some 943 were not investigated as they submitted insufficient records of their share dealing or refused to cooperate.

"Some employees felt it was an infringement of their privacy to be forced to disclose their and their family's stock trading details, including their account numbers," Sakamoto said.

The original scandal resulted in three employees being dismissed in April after the resignation of the president and two senior executives in January to take responsibility for the incident.