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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Falsifying Accounts--Livedoor Scandal

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Takafumi Horie, the founder and former President of Internet colossus Livedoor, was arrested last month and is now spending his days in a three-tatami mat police cell without internet access. He has been accused of attempting to use false information to artificially increase the stock price of one of his subsidiary companies--i.e., of violating securities law.

Despised by the Tokyo business establishment for his win-at-all costs approach to business, Horie, 33, is now being smeared by all as “money obsessed.” (This is rich considering the source of all the pious pontificating: Japan's business and media elite - neither of which in any way sullies itself with concerns about money!) Among his most egregious sins was his attempted takeover of Fuji Television, one of the largest media groups in Japan and an establishment player that does not appreciate anyone, least of all an outsider, meddling in its affairs.

The headquarters of Livedoor are located in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo’s premier office space. Horie himself went to work in designer jeans and t-shirts, and was often seen escorting models around Tokyo.

horie-email image - The Daily Yomiuri, 19 Feb 2006His case is made all the more intriguing because of his deep ties to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), for which he ran - and lost - last fall for a seat in Parliament.
He was one of Prime Minister Koizumi's "assassins" who were dispatched to take out the old guard that opposed the PM. A recently discovered email shows just how cozy things were. According to Hisayasu Nagata, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, an employee of Nagata received the following mail last August with instructions to make a bank transfer to the son of LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe.

Dear (blacked out):

For Your Eyes Only. Urgent. Deal with this by the 31st at the latest. Better if taken care of by the morning of the 29th. Wire 30 million yen to (blacked out; the red spot in the email) X. Use the same account as before.


Take care of it under the heading “Election Consulting Fee.”

(Blacked out.) Heed the advice of Miyauchi (former Livedoor CFO; currently under arrest). I will tell (blacked out) Y, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Horie

Horie has denied making any such payment. Since his arrest, Livedoor’s stock price has plummeted 90% to 61 yen a share. If found guilty, Horie could face up to five years in prison or - if he's lucky - a fine of five million yen ($42,000).

"Email was bogus", admits Nagata

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