Ex-prexy defends Murakami

Former Livedoor prexy Takafumi Horie defended fund manager Yoshiaki Murakami against accusations of insider trading in testimony to prosecutors on Tuesday.

According to Japanese press reports, Horie denied consulting with Murakami before the latter purchased shares of Nippon Broadcasting System, a radio broadcaster affiliated with the Fuji TV web, from late 2004 to early 2005.

On Feb. 8, 2005, Livedoor, an Internet startup whose own shares were then riding high on falsely inflated earnings reports, went on an off-hours buying spree that gave it a 35% share of NBS as it attempted a hostile takeover.

In the ensuing battle, Livedoor fought giant Fuji TV to standstill, with the web purchasing a 12.75% stake in Livedoor for ¥44 billion ($383 million) to end the hostilities.

In March, following the collapse of Livedoor’s share price, Fuji sold its Livedoor stock to the prexy of broadband giant Usen for about $82.6 million.

Immediately prior to his June 5 arrest, however, Murakami confessed his guilt at a dramatic press conference. From Nov. 9-Jan. 26, Murakami’s Singapore-based MAC Asset Management investment fund reportedly snapped up 1.93 million NBS shares.

On Jan 23, Horie and four other Livedoor executives were arrested on charges of falsely inflating company earnings.

Although his four former associates have since confessed, Horie continues to maintain his innocence.

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