NHK workers fired for insider trading

Japanese co. nabs Kappa Create investors

TOKYO — Japanese pubcaster NHK has fired three employees for insider trading, it revealed on Thursday.

The trio — two reporters and a director at provincial stations — snapped up shares of restaurant chain operator Zensho in March 2007 just prior to the release of an NHK story that Zensho planned to buy into the Kappa Create sushi chain. They separately accessed the story through an online editing system, then bought between 1,000 and 3,000 Zensho shares minutes before the news went wide. They cashed in to the tune of between Y100,000 ($1,000) and Y500,000 ($5,000).

All three copped to the deals to in-house investigators and received suspensions and 40 percent pay cuts on March 5. They later paid fines of Y60,000 ($600) to Y260,000 ($2,600)  at the behest the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission.

NHK Chairman Genichi Hashimoto issued a public apology and resigned on Jan. 25 to take responsibility. Current Chairman Shigeo Fukuchi told reporters on Thursday that “(The three employees) not only violated the law, but caused us to lose trust as a public broadcaster. It will be a big blow to our reporting activities.” He added that the pubcaster would not seek additional punishment for the trio beyond the firings.

Nine of their supervisors had their pay shaved in half for one day, while one supervisor who retired from the pubcaster last year to take a job at an affiliate received a strong warning.

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