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Livedoor founder loses suit damages

SHAREHOLDERS won damages yesterday from Takafumi Horie, founder of Internet startup Livedoor Co, in a class-action lawsuit that claimed people had been duped into making dubious investments in the Japanese firm.

A court official confirmed the ruling but declined to elaborate. Kyodo News reported that the court awarded damages totaling 7.6 billion yen (US$81 million). It said 3,340 individual and corporate shareholders had filed the lawsuit, which had demanded 23 billion yen.

Horie, 36, a star before his 2006 arrest, was later found guilty of securities laws violations. The Tokyo District Court sentenced him to two and a half years in prison, a relatively harsh ruling for white collar crime in Japan, in 2007.

The Tokyo High Court upheld that decision last year. Horie, who has stepped down as Livedoor's chief executive, has repeatedly said he is innocent and is appealing to the Japanese Supreme Court while out on bail.

The lawsuit from shareholders is separate from the criminal case. The lawsuit says shareholders racked up massive losses when Livedoor stock plunged.

The district court found Livedoor, Horie, other former Livedoor executives responsible in concocting fraudulent exchanges of stock to falsify Livedoor's performance, NHK TV reported.

Shareholders may appeal, demanding more in damages, it said.

Livedoor was delisted in 2006 after a raid on its Tokyo office sent the stock tumbling.


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