Komuro arrested over contract fraud

Pop producer allegedly sold unowned rights

Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Report

OSAKA — Osaka prosecutors arrested well-known music producer Tetsuya Komuro on Tuesday for allegedly defrauding an investor out of ¥500 million by signing a contract to sell the copyrights to music he mostly wrote but didn’t own.

Komuro owned up to the fraud during questioning by prosecutors Tuesday, according to a source.

“I have nothing to say to defend myself. I’d like to reflect on myself and apologize to the victim,” Komuro, 49, was quoted as saying by the source.

Komuro, widely popular in Japan and other parts of Asia, raised a fortune by producing a string of pop hits in the 1990s. But he has reportedly fallen on hard times and ran up huge debts linked to business and family matters.

Komuro is suspected of pretending to own the copyrights to 806 tunes and concluding a ¥1 billion contract for them with a buyer in Hyogo Prefecture in August 2006, the prosecutors said.

Komuro received ¥500 million as part of the contract that month, they said.

He wrote most of the 806 tunes but was not authorized to transfer the copyrights to them under the contract between him and the music publisher, the prosecutors said.

Prosecutors searched his office and home in Tokyo and questioned two others close to him.

Of the ¥500 million received, ¥150 million is believed to have been transferred to one of the two, who assumed Komuro’s debt payments, while the other ¥350 million is believed to have been used to return loans, other sources said.

After facing off in civil lawsuits, Komuro and the investor reached an agreement in July under which he agreed to pay the buyer ¥600 million as settlement money.

But Komuro failed to pay by the deadline, prompting the buyer to file a complaint with the Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Komuro debuted as a member of the popular band TM Network in 1984 and helped produce many smash hits in the 1990s, including “Can You Celebrate?” by Namie Amuro and the hit songs “Ez Do Dance” and “Crazy Gonna Crazy” by TRF.

A number of Japanese singers shot to stardom singing his songs, and the “Komuro Family” dominated the Japanese music scene in the 1990s, turning him into a superstar.

CDs produced by Komuro have sold a total of 170 million copies so far, and he was ranked as Japan’s fourth-biggest individual taxpayer in 1997 and 1998, paying more than ¥1 billion each year.

Soon after Komuro’s arrest was reported, music firm Avex Group Holdings Inc. canceled a plan to release new CD singles by the pop band globe, led by Komuro, that were to go on sale Nov. 26 and Dec. 17. Online distribution of the band’s songs will be suspended as well, it said.

“Our company has not learned about the details of the suspicion yet, but the situation that prompted the arrest is very regrettable,” the firm said in a statement.

The news of his arrest, however, did not surprise some people in the music industry because rumors had already circulated that Komuro was short of funds.

“It’s not surprising. It’s well-known in the industry that he is short of money. People often said, ‘You should not work with him,’ ” one industry worker said.