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Livedoor’s Horie: ‘I’m not guilty’

Foremr prexy will plead not guilty at upcoming trial

Takafumi Horie, former prexy of Internet startup Livedoor, issued a statement to the press proclaiming his innocence of the securities fraud charges that put him behind bars and sent Livedoor’s shares plunging.

In a handwritten two-page statement, issued in response to questions from media submitted through his lawyer, Horie said he will plead not guilty at his upcoming trial, He added he had “no intention of ordering or approving” illegal acts, including the manipulation of financial data to boost Livedoor’s share price.

Free on bail since April 27, Horie also said that in his three months in detentions he worked on new business plans not involving Livedoor, but declined to provide details. His immediate concern, however, is his upcoming trial, skedded to start this summer.

Horie and four other Livedoor executives, including former CFO Ryuji Miyauchi and former representative director Fumito Kumagai, were arrested in January on charges of falsely inflating company earnings.

Also, all except Kumagai, are accused of scheming to mislead investors about the 2004 takeover of a publisher by Livedoor Marketing — a Livedoor subsidiary then called ValueClick Japan. The trial of the four execs, other than Horie, and two former Livedoor accountants starts Friday in Tokyo.

Once a high-flying Internet powerhouse, Livedoor last year mounted an aggressive takeover bid for a radio company owned by Fuji TV. The bid failed, but Fuji ended up buying a 12.75% stake in Livedoor for Y44 billion ($400 million). In March, the web sold its Livedoor shares to broadband giant Usen for about Y9.5 billion ($86.4 million). Livedoor has since been delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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