Livedoor Co. President Kozo Hiramatsu, testifying in court Friday, apologized for his company’s having misled the stock market by releasing false announcements and window-dressing for the business year to Sept. 30, 2004, before he assumed his position.

“Our management’s attention used to be directed only at our stock price,” Hiramatsu told the Tokyo District Court.

Hiramatsu, elected to the post of Livedoor representative director at a shareholder meeting June 14, was testifying on behalf of the firm at a trial session presided over by Judge Toshiyuki Kosaka.

Livedoor, Livedoor Marketing Co. and four former Livedoor executives went on trial May 26 on charges of conspiring to mislead investors by making a series of bogus announcements, including one on a takeover of a publisher via a stock swap, and by falsifying Livedoor’s financial figures for the 2004 business year.

The two firms and four executives pleaded guilty to all charges by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office at the first trial session.

Livedoor founder and former President Takafumi Horie, who has denied any wrongdoing, will be tried separately. His trial is expected to start in September or thereafter.

Hiramatsu assumed the Livedoor presidency after Horie was arrested on Jan. 23 and relinquished the helm the following day.

“Our management used to have an excessively strong desire to demonstrate to the market that the company was constantly expanding,” Hiramatsu said.

Describing Horie as a “young Japanese manager with excellent qualifications,” Hiramatsu said, “I want him to learn lessons from this incident and become repentant, although this incident is very deplorable.”

Turning to the issue of what Livedoor is planning for the future, he said, “Our company would like to revive itself and recover social trust by taking advantage of its human and technological resources, while living up to laws and regulations.”

Livedoor and Value Click Japan Inc., the predecessor of Livedoor Marketing, stand accused of breaking the Securities and Exchange Law by releasing a false announcement on Oct. 25, 2004.

In the case, Value Click said it was planning to take over publisher MoneyLife Inc. via a share swap, although it had been bought with cash by a Livedoor-controlled investment partnership. Prosecutors charge the hidden goal of the scheme was to drive up Value Click’s share price and make a handsome gain by having the partnership sell its new shares.

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