Japan dot-com star jailed for fraud

Takafumi Horie, the former boss of internet firm Livedoor, has been found guilty of securities laws violations and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Japan dot-com star jailed for fraud

Takafumi Horie, the former boss of internet firmLivedoor, has been found guilty of securities laws violations and sentenced totwo-and-a-half years in prison.

Horie had pleaded not guilty, saying he had been framed.
He accused prosecutors of having targeted him for standing out too much withhis brash, unconventional business style.



He is expected to appeal Friday's Tokyo District Courtruling.

Prosecutors had demanded a four-year prison term for the34-year-old founder of Livedoor, which Horie guided from unknown startup tohousehold name



In Japan,executives charged of such wrongdoing generally get a suspended sentence, andavoid prison.

Chief Judge Toshiyuki Kosaka said Horie masterminded an elaborate network ofdecoy investment funds that were "established for the purpose of evadingthe law" and to "manipulate Livedoor's accounting".

"At that point, the prosecutors case was proven,"he said.

Horie, dressed in a dark suit and tie instead of his normalcasual attire that infuriated the business community, sat passively as theverdict was read, shuffling through papers on his desk.

Clash of cultures

His trial, which opened in September last year, had drawnwidespread media attention here with the outspoken millionaire seen as a symbolof a new style of entrepreneurship in Japan.

Corporate culture in Japan has long been dominated bybig-name companies that conducted business through a cosy network ofgroup-linked companies.

Some analysts say companies such as Livedoor that madeaggressive acquisitions were just beginning to emerge, and Japan stilllacked clearly defined laws to police such moves.

Horie tumbled from stardom when prosecutors raided hiscompany last year and then arrested him.

He was held for three months, but did not sign a confessionas most suspects do in Japan,often to get a lighter sentence.

Some Livedoor shareholders were pleased by the verdict,saying it recognised the financial damage they suffered because of thefraudulent accounting.

Livedoor, which operated an internet portal and offeredweb-related services, drew a large number of individual investors, partlybecause of Horie's fame.

Those investors, many of them amateurs at the stock market,took big losses when Livedoor shares nose-dived after Horie's arrest.

The case has also received widespread attention becauseHorie asserted his innocence instead of confessing. Most criminal trials in Japan end withguilty verdicts.

Other Livedoor executives, including Ryoji Miyauchi, theformer chief financial officer, are being tried in a separate trial on chargesof securities laws violations.

A ruling is expected on March 22. Miyauchi, who pleadedguilty, has been a key prosecution witness against his former boss and friendand has testified that Horie orchestrated the schemes.

Source: Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16