Sogo execs cleared of failing to launch outlet in Istanbul

The Tokyo District Court ruled Tuesday that three top executives of the defunct Sogo Co. department store chain were not responsible for failing to launch an outlet in Istanbul, repealing its initial decision that they should share 1.62 billion yen for the loss.

Under the court’s decision in December 2000, the three, including Hiroo Mizushima, 92, former chairman of Sogo, were responsible for extending additional loans in 1990 to Sogo’s Turkey subsidiary in charge of the project and delaying in recovering them.

But presiding Judge Kikuo Asaka said in the latest ruling, “It cannot be said that they failed to perform their duties, considering the circumstances in those days.”

Asaka said it would have been difficult for the executives to stop extending loans because the Turkish government’s expectations were high amid Japanese lawmakers’ cooperation with the project.

Sogo’s management asked the court in 2000 to assess the liability of its former executives for losses stemming from the project and other forms of mismanagement.

The court’s 2000 ruling found that 17 former executives were liable for 6 billion yen to cover the losses. But they filed a complaint against the decision in three groups. Tuesday’s ruling was for one of the groups.

The complaints by the two other groups are currently being heard at the district court.

“I am very happy that the court ruled that such big international projects couldn’t just be given up half way,”