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Japan Net guru guilty of fraud

Tokyo, March 16 (Reuters): Takafumi Horie, the 34-year-old Internet entrepreneur who rattled corporate Japan with his celebrity lifestyle and brash takeover bids, was found guilty and sentenced to 2-and-a-half years in prison today for his role in a securities fraud at his former company Livedoor.

The punishment contrasted with past sanctions meted out to Japanese executives convicted of white-collar crimes, who often receive suspended sentences after pleading guilty and showing remorse.

Experts said the ruling symbolised a new determination by regulators to clamp down on corporate misdeeds, though Horie’s defiant insistence on his innocence likely marked him for tougher treatment.

A dropout from University of Tokyo, who used savvy marketing and an aggressive string of acquisitions to build a $50,000 start-up into a conglomerate worth $6 billion at its peak, Horie had called the charges “malicious” and blamed his chief financial officer for the accounting mess.

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