Ufotable CEO Hikaru Kondo admitted to intentionally misreporting cafe and merchandise store sales numbers during the first hearing concerning tax fraud allegations at the animation studio. Court documents cited the possibility of a future business decline as one of the main reasons behind Kondo’s actions. [Thanks, NHK!]
Kondo is being tried for evading 138 million yen (about $1.2 million) worth of taxes. Kondo allegedly hid over 441 million yen (about $4 million) worth of Ufotable cafe and merchandise sales from 2015 to 2018. On September 17, 2021, the CEO admitted to the allegations. He stated that he “felt the company would not suffer if [he] evaded taxes,” offering an apology and heavy bow in court.
Below is a translation of the prosecution’s opening statement.
With the rise in popularity of the animation projects [Ufotable] worked on, and the success of its cafe and merchandise sales, [the defendant] repeatedly excluded portions of revenue in order to prepare for a future decline in business and keep as much capital as possible to himself.
In July, Ufotable released an official statement regarding the tax fraud allegations. It apologized to fans and related parties for any inconveniences. Furthermore, the studio paid the full amount of evaded tax to the national tax authorities. It also pledged to comply with laws and regulations in the future.
The animation studio’s work includes Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. Its work also appears in games. It most recently created the opening animation for Tales of Arise.