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Japan Livedoor tycoon Horie to be jailed

26 april 2011, 11:45
Photo courtesy of talktalk.co.uk
Photo courtesy of talktalk.co.uk
Japan's controversial Livedoor Internet tycoon Takafumi Horie is to be jailed for accounting fraud after the country's Supreme Court rejected his appeal, AFP reports citing a court official.

Horie, 38, who founded the once high-flying Internet service provider, had appealed against a 2008 ruling by the High Court sentencing him to two years and six months in jail for his involvement in the case.

He was originally convicted by the district court in 2007 for falsely reporting a pre-tax profit of five billion yen ($61 million at today's rates) to hide actual losses through an elaborately crafted acquisition scheme.

Horie was once the darling of the Japanese media, which portrayed him as a harbinger of a new, rougher style of business in a country known for consensus and playing by the rules.

The brash University of Tokyo literature dropout, who prefers T-shirts to business suits, became a household name with his start-up style that broke the rules of Japan Inc and made him a hero with many young people.

Horie made news in 2004 when he attempted to take over Osaka's indebted Kintetsu Buffaloes baseball team.

The following year he launched a rare hostile takeover bid for Nippon Broadcasting System from TV broadcaster Fuji Television, which failed but led Fuji to take a minority stake in Livedoor.

Dating leading actresses and known to zoom around Tokyo in a Ferrari, his nickname was "Horiemon", a play on the blue robot cat "Doraemon", a popular manga cartoon character.

In May 2009 the dotcom tycoon and his aides were ordered to pay seven billion yen in damages to shareholders in his former firm over the fraud.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that the 3,340 investors had suffered losses from a plunge in the share price of Horie's Livedoor after the fraud scandal surfaced in early 2006.

The individual and corporate investors in the suit had sought 23 billion yen in damages from him and the firm's 22 other former executives.

Despite the disgrace, Horie had remained defiant. In a rare media appearance in 2008 after his arrest, he accused Japanese prosecutors of cooking up the fraud scandal to shoot him down.

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