New entity to handle Aum Shinrikyo compensation

The bankruptcy administrator of the Aum Supreme Truth cult will create a new organization to handle payouts to victims of the cult’s crimes, the administrator said Saturday.

Saburo Abe, a lawyer and the cult’s bankruptcy administrator, said the new organization would take over debt claims of ordinary creditors other than the victims and collect debt and distribute money gained through the claims to the victims.

Though some followers of the cult, led by Fumihiro Joyu, 43, have hinted at establishing a new religious organization, Abe said the new group also should be held responsible for paying compensation.

If the new religious entity is founded, the bankruptcy administrator will demand both religious organizations pay compensation to victims.

Aum went bankrupt in 1996 with about 5.1 billion yen in liabilities. Altogether, 1,213 victims and bereaved family members are entitled to about 3.8 billion yen in compensation from the cult.

But by 2002, only two payouts totaling 1.2 million yen had been made, and annual repayments from Aum to the bankruptcy administrator were only 50 million yen to 70 million yen each year.

The third disbursement of money, to be made this year, will likely be about 200 million yen, Abe said.

Abe came up with the idea to set up a new organization to take over debt claims from ordinary creditors, such as companies that sold goods to Aum. The new organization will redistribute money collected from the debt claims. Abe plans to implement the new method starting with the fourth disbursement of money.

About 860 creditors held claims worth about 420 million yen as of the end of April. Of them, more than 70 percent have agreed to transfer their debt claims.

There is a conflict in the cult between the group led by Joyu and others admiring the founder Chizuo Matsumoto, also known as Shoko Asahara.

The current cult signed an agreement with the bankruptcy administrator saying it would take over all debts held by Aum at the time of its being declared bankrupt, and has continued paying victim compensation.

If the Joyu group leaves the cult to establish a new religious organization, Aum’s financial capability will be weaker and it is possible the cult’s payment of compensation will be further delayed.

Abe pointed out that if the Joyu group sets up a separate religious organization, the new entity will also be obliged to pay compensation, because Joyu committed to signing the agreement.

The purpose of the agreement was that Aum followers should pay for the compensation to show their remorse as members of the entity that committed the crimes, Abe said.

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The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan
May 7, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday May 8, 2006.
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