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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

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    Release No. 07-170

    December 21, 2007


    The former finance director and chief investment officer of Soka University of America appeared today in federal court in Santa Ana following his indictment Wednesday on federal charges of embezzling Soka's funds over the course of seven years and laundering the money by funneling it through sham Soka bank accounts that he created.

    Kiyoshi Hatanaka, 52, of Aliso Viejo, was named in a 16-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed this afternoon when he appeared before a United States Magistrate Judge.

    As the controller, finance director and CIO, Hatanaka had access to Soka's bank accounts and investment accounts. He also had responsibility for managing Soka's investments. Accordingly, Hatanaka had the ability to cause unauthorized transfers and withdrawals to be made from Soka's bank accounts and accounts in which its investments were held, according to the indictment.

    Beginning in 1999 and continuing to early January 2006, Hatanaka caused approximately $1,756,000 to be transferred from Soka's bank and investment accounts to bank accounts he controlled. Hatanaka withdrew those funds from the accounts that he controlled, and then used those funds for his own benefit.

    In this case, Soka discovered the embezzlement when suspicious activity was reported to it by its bank. Soka contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which launched the investigation that led to this week’s indictment. Soka University is a private, liberal arts college and graduate school. Its Aliso Viejo campus was completed and opened to students in 2001.

    Hatanaka is charged with eight counts of embezzlement from an organization that receives federal benefits. He is also charged with eight counts of money laundering. The embezzlement counts each carry a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in federal prison, and the money laundering counts each carry a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


    Release No. 07-170
    Return to the 2007 Press Release Index