A man who was mistakenly given more than £280,000 in Covid-19 relief funds by his town said he had gambled the money away in just two weeks on overseas casino sites.

More than 463 low income households in the town of Abu, located in the Yamaguchi district of Japan, were supposed to receive 100,000 Yen (around £600) each from their government to help ease financial strain.

Instead, the entire fund of 46.3million Yen – £287,000- was paid into the account of an unnamed 24-year-old man.

Every day for around two weeks he withdrew cash which local media claimed he gambled away, the Asahi Shumbun reported.

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Abu Mayor Norihiko Hanada speaks to reporters at the Abu town government office in Yamaguchi Prefecture on May 17

He was quoted as saying: “I’ve already moved the money. It can’t be returned.

“It cannot be undone any more. I will not run. I will pay for my crime.

“I don’t currently have the money and I don’t have anything with property value at hand. It’s actually difficult to return it.”

Abu Mayor Norihiko Hanada told reporters May 17 it would be “unforgivable” if the man actually gambled all the money on casino sites.

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He said it was hard to imagine that such a large sum of money had been lost in one go.

The man voluntarily agreed to be questioned about the matter by police officers, according to an attorney who represents him.

The 24-year-old had gambled the money away in just two weeks on overseas casino sites

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At a news conference on Monday (May 16), the attorney revealed that the man had explained to him that it is all gone.

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“He spent all (of the 46.3 million yen) by using his smartphone,” his attorney said.

The attorney added it would be difficult to return the funds and that the man’s smartphone has already been voluntarily handed to the police.

According to the attorney, the man is cooperating with police.

He responded to the police’s request to appear voluntarily to explain his circumstances in late April, and then again on May 10, after the town’s banking blunder came to light.

The man has reportedly agreed to continue to be questioned.

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