Fuji takeover suspect awaits ruling

Court will hand down decision on July 19

TOKYO — The trial of a trade ministry bureaucrat-turned-fund manager accused of insider trading in entrepreneur Takafumi Hori’s failed hostile bid for Japanese TV giant Fuji TV ended Tuesday.

The Tokyo District Court will hand down its decision on July 19.

Yoshiaki Murakami admitted hearing from Horie, former prexy of Internet start-up Livedoor, about his plan to snap up a large chunk of shares from Nippon Broadcasting, a radio broadcasting subsid of the Fuji TV network, as part of a takeover bid in 2004-05.

Arrested last June, Murakami at first admitted his involvement, but changed his tune with the start of his trial, and has maintained his innocence ever since.

Prosecutors have asked for a three-year prison sentence plus a ¥3 million ($24,793) fine. They also want Murakami to cough up the alleged $9.09 million he made on insider trading.

The penalty is the largest in the history of Japanese insider trading cases.

Horie, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in March for finagling Livedoor’s profit statements to boost its stock price, has testified on Murakami’s behalf, saying he did not make the final decision on the NBS share purchase until just before the February 2005 announcement.

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