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Jailed Japanese net mogul launches appeal

Livedoor saga continues

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The former CEO of internet service provider Livedoor was not present earlier today at Tokyo High Court for the start of his appeal against a two-and-a-half year jail sentence for securities fraud, AP reports.

Takafumi Horie apparently absented himself to "prevent turmoil" in the court, preferring to plead not guilty through his lawyers. Head lawyer Yasuyuki Takai simply declared: "First of all, [Horie] is not guilty."

Horie and four other Livedoor execs were arrested in January 2006 on charges that they "conspired with others to massage Livedoor's profits to convey the impression that the firm still enjoyed growth". Specifically, they were charged with "setting up a number of funds to do stock swaps and other stock trading to pad their books" - a scam which prosecutors claimed "fabricated $46.2m in profits".

The fall of the former high-flyer and internet poster boy came as a bit of a shock, not least to the small investors who supported the company at its height and suffered major losses when its stock crashed and burned following the scandal.

In September 2006, Horie insisted to a Tokyo court: "I have not carried out, or instructed, such crimes as were mentioned. The indictment was written with malice. It's regrettable that I've been indicted."

Horie was, nonetheless, found guilty, along with the four fellow Livedoor executives. The case prompted calls for "clearer laws about stock trading and heavier penalties for falsifying earnings reports", AP concludes. ®

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