Tetsuo Taira, 56, who used to run Rising Production Co., was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison for evading some 1.1 billion yen in corporate taxes. Taira had for the most part owned up to the charges, saying he wanted to set aside money for the future, as the entertainment world was full of uncertainties.

Prosecutors had demanded a four-year prison term, while he had sought a suspended sentence.

Judge Yoshinobu Iida of the Tokyo District Court ruled that the tax evasion was conducted on a large scale and maliciously and cunningly done. “As such, there is no room for leniency,” he said. Taira’s lawyer immediately filed an appeal.

The court ordered Rising Production, a talent agency which has since been renamed Freegate Promotion Co., to pay 240 million yen in fines. Judge Iida said Taira was the key figure in the tax evasion scheme, coming up with the plan and ordering his subordinates to place fictitious outside orders to other firms on Rising Production’s books.

According to the ruling, Taira and other employees hid 2.85 billion yen in income for the three years to 1999 for Rising Production and the two years to 2000 for an affiliate firm.

Taira set up Rising Production in 1985. The firm counts pop stars Namie Amuro and Da Pump among its clients.

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