From playboy to jailbird: Livedoor CEO Horie now under arrest

Takafumi Horie News sources here are reporting that 33-year-old millionaire and Livedoor CEO Takafumi Horie has just tonight finally been arrested on charges of securities fraud. Prosecuters are asserting that Livedoor executives carried out some monkeyshines to inflate the company’s share price and also did some clumsy water-into-wine parlour magic to try to make the company appear profitable at a time when it was actually operating at a loss. Three other Livedoor executives were arrested along with Horie: the company president, CFO, and marketing president.

In case you’ve not been following the news lately: The fun began last week, when a crack team of expert box carriers raided Livedoor’s offices and carted off evidence which prosecutors claim incriminates Livedoor and its executives in fraud. The raid and statements from prosecutors caused Livedoor’s share price to nose-dive and to take most of the Nikkei Index down with it. Things got a lot grimmer when it was reported that an executive of a company whose offices were also raided as part of the investigation, Hideaki Noguchi (who is also apparently of personal friend of Horie) was found dead down in Okinawa, in what police are saying was a suicide.

The back story behind all this news is the drastic change in fortune for Horie that has come about in the past week. His youth, his personal wealth and lifestyle, the brashness of his business actions, his battles against the old guard (and their efforts to do everything they can to stop him), and especially the tone of his public comments over the last few years have turned him into a media celebrity here. That in spite of the fact that he and Livedoor have not exactly had a sterling record of success in recent memory (he failed quite spectacularly in attempts to buy a baseball team and to take over one of the biggest TV networks here, and Livedoor is now widely perceived as a company without much skill at innovating but with a lot of experience in copying other companies’ successes).

In the past, when circumstances have not turned out in his favor, he’s sometimes said things like, “Everything’s still going just the way I planned.” It’ll be very interesting to hear what spin he ends up putting on these latest events.

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