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Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006

Horie sticks to claim of innocence


Staff writer

Former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie said in court Tuesday he was unaware of any securities laws violations his company allegedly committed.

Answering questions from his defense lawyers for the second time since his trial over securities fraud began in September, the 34-year-old Internet mogul said he was never notified that proceeds from the sale of Livedoor stock were being illegally reported as company profit.

"I couldn't even imagine such a thing," he said. "I didn't receive any explanations during the company meetings."

Horie, dressed in a dark suit and tie, focused his testimony on proving his incorruptibility and blaming former subordinates for the alleged crimes.

The Internet maverick claimed that most of the reports handed to him were for ex post approval, and that he rarely had the time to read the contracts Livedoor concluded with other companies because he was "too busy."

"There was nothing I could do even if I was told about what goes on in the field," he said, implying his subordinates were acting on their own in window-dressing the company's books.

The former dot-com star gave similar testimony last week, when he stressed during his first appearance on the stand that former Livedoor Chief Financial Officer Ryoji Miyauchi was the mastermind behind the falsified earnings figures in 2004.

On Tuesday, he made a greater effort to distance himself from the allegations.

In response to testimony from Miyauchi that Horie was given direct notice of the fraudulent share transactions, Horie said he couldn't remember when Miyauchi came into his office and told him.

Horie is accused ordering four top executives to report a pretax profit of 5 billion yen for the business year through September 2004, instead of an actual loss of 300 million yen.

Horie criticized Miyauchi and others who testified against him, saying he was surprised by how many "lies continued to come out of their mouths."

Later in the day, he spoke more kindly of his former subordinates.

"I think the executives never intended to break the law," Horie said, adding he thought prosecutors may have pressured them to testify against him.



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