Ex-Livedoor head Horie released from detention

Takafumi Horie, the one-time high-flying head of Japanese Internet portal Livedoor, was released from the Tokyo Detention House on Thursday.

Takafumi Horie, the one-time high-flying head of Japanese Internet portal Livedoor Co., was released from the Tokyo Detention House on Thursday after three months of confinement following his arrest on Jan. 23 on suspicion of securities fraud.

Horie left the center at about 9:40 p.m. local time to be confronted by more than 200 journalists and numerous TV crews eager to hear his first words on being released. As he walked out of the detention center, he bowed and spoke, although his words couldn't be heard on the TV broadcast over the noise of cameras and a waiting car into which he quickly stepped.

From the detention center he was driven to his apartment in the swanky Roppongi Hills complex in central Tokyo. Media motorbikes and helicopters followed his car for the entire trip.

Horie was arrested along with other Livedoor executives who have since been released on bail. But Horie's requests for bail were twice refused until Thursday when he was released on bail of YEN 300 million (AU$3.44 million), according to local media reports.

He was arrested on suspicion of violating Japan's Securities and Exchange Law along with other Livedoor officials accused of reporting the company made a profit in the fiscal year to September 2004 when in fact it lost money.

In the three months since Horie was arrested, much has changed at Livedoor. In the immediate wake of the scandal and Horie's arrest, the company's share price collapsed and it was eventually delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange on April 14 after losing about three-quarters of its value. Business deals have also fallen apart and group companies have sought to sever ties with the scandal-tainted parent.

Horie was stripped of his executive status soon after his arrest and Kozo Hiramatsu, who had been head of a Livedoor subsidiary, was put in charge. Hiramatsu quickly ruled out any return for Horie to Livedoor's management although Horie remains a major shareholder.

Asked by reporters on Thursday morning if he planned to contact Horie after his release, Hiramatsu said he had absolutely no plans to do so. He regards Horie with the same status as other private shareholders in Livedoor.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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