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Horie may get four years in Livedoor case

Prosecutors make request for former president of company

TOKYO — Prosecutors have requested a four-year sentence for Takafumi Horie, the former prexy of Livedoor, for his alleged violations of Japanese security laws.

In their closing statement in Tokyo District Court on December 22, prosecutors noted Horie’s “ill-logical, unnatural” claims of innocence. “Instead he has try pass off responsibility to his subordinates, but the testimony of the company’s executives provide ample proof of his crimes,” prosecutors claimed.

The defense will make its closing statement on January 26 and the court will hand down its ruling sometime in March.

Horie is accused of conspiring with four other Livedoor execs to phony the firm’s financial data and boost its stated profits for fiscal 2004. Prosecutors noted that Horie boasted of his goal to make the company’s consolidated operating profit the highest in the world. They claim that in trying to boost profits, he and his fellow execs connived to falsify group company earnings and profits from sales of Livedoor stocks. The gap between actual and stated profits was 5.3 billion ($45 million), prosecutors charge.

The other four execs involved in case have pleaded guilty, while Horie has maintained his innocence since his arrest in January.

Horie led a takeover attempt of radio broadcaster Nippon Broadcasting early in 2005 as a prelim to wresting control of parent company Fuji TV. The attempt failed, but the web bought a 12.7 percent stake in Livedoor, worth 44 billion yen ($379 million), in the spring of 2005 as part of a peace pact with Horie. Following Horie’s arrest, however, Livedoor’s stock price tanked and Fuji took a Y34.5 billion ($295 million) loss. The web now plans to sue Livedoor for damages.