By Takashi Umekawa and Takaya Yamaguchi
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan Post Bank Co Ltd <7182.T> on Friday said it improperly sold investment trust products to elderly customers in about 19,500 cases, the latest instance of misconduct at the state-backed postal and financial group ahead of a planned share sale.
The bank said it discovered branches and post offices had neglected an internal rule requiring staff to confirm twice that customers aged 70 years or older be in good health and have a good grasp of its products before making any sales.
An investigation by the unit of Japan Post Holdings Co Ltd <6178.T> discovered 17,700 cases at its 213 branches and 1,891 cases at post offices in the year ended March, the bank said at a news briefing.
The misconduct casts a shadow over the government’s plan to sell $10 billion worth of its shares in Japan Post Holdings to pay for reconstruction in areas hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Shares in Japan Post Holdings have already been hit by revelations of impropriety at another subsidiary, Japan Post Insurance Co Ltd <7181.T>. Analysts have said the government may delay its share sale due to the sell-off.
(Reporting by Takashi Umekawa and Takaya Yamaguchi; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing)