• The Associated Press


Former Internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie and his defense team are confident he will be cleared of securities laws violation charges, one of the lawyers said Sunday, a day before the trial is due to begin.

Horie, 33, founder and former president of Internet startup Livedoor Co., is suspected, together with his former executives, of falsifying earnings data to inflate stock prices and other securities laws violations.

But the prosecutors’ case against the former dot-com hero is overblown and won’t stand in court, Yasuyuki Takai, one of Horie’s lawyers, said in an interview aired Sunday on TV Asahi.

“The charges are very far-fetched,” Takai said. “Horie is prepared to argue his innocence” when his trial opens Monday at the Tokyo District Court, he said.

Prosecutors say Horie and other Livedoor executives, arrested earlier this year, used dubious methods to buy up other companies, set up dummy companies to hide losses and jack up the capital value of their group companies in 2004.

Livedoor is suspected of pretending to have an affiliate acquire a company that was already under its control and selling stock in that company to doctor its books, prosecutors say.

Horie has repeatedly denied the allegations, while four other Livedoor executives who are being tried separately have reportedly admitted to some charges.

Analysts have said the key to the trial will be how much Horie knew about such antics and whether he was aware of wrongdoing or if he had conspired with the other executives to fabricate results, as prosecutors contend.

But Takai said Horie was prepared to argue none of Livedoor’s executives were guilty.

“Horie is not saying he alone did not do these things. He’s saying (Livedoor executives) did not,” Takai said.

He also said Horie was looking forward to his day in court.

“For Horie, the trial is a great opportunity. He’s been locked up until now . . . but in court, he can make his case fair and square,” Takai said.

Before his arrest in January, Horie, a chubby T-shirt-and-slacks-wearing self-made millionaire whose bold takeover attempts earned him both adulation and contempt, was a media darling touted as a beacon for a bolder generation of entrepreneurs.

His popular Internet company, founded in 1997, gobbled up companies by the dozens, and forced the nation’s largest media company into a reluctant alliance after launching an unprecedented hostile takeover bid.

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