Ex-Nova language school founder Sahashi’s two-year prison term finalized

Kyodo

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the founder and former president of the language school chain Nova Corp. against his conviction for embezzling ¥320 million from employee benefit funds, effectively finalizing his two-year prison term.

Nozomu Sahashi, 61, was convicted of transferring the sum accumulated at an entity in charge of the funds to a bank account of a Nova subsidiary in July 2007 in order to reimburse students who had signed contracts that they subsequently canceled.

The ruling by the top court’s Third Petty Bench was made Monday.

In August 2009, the Osaka District Court sentenced Sahashi to 3½ years in prison for embezzlement, rejecting his claim that he had no intention to gain unlawful profits.

The Osaka High Court reduced the prison term in December 2010 to two years, recognizing that the embezzlement was aimed at keeping the company operating amid a management crisis and that Sahashi had not gained personally.

Sahashi launched the English conversation classes in 1981 and set up Nova in 1990. His venture grew into what was once Japan’s largest chain of English language schools, with around 480,000 people taking language lessons at its peak.