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Livedoor ordered to pay for damages

A Tokyo court ordered once-glamorous Japanese start-up Livedoor Co and its founder to pay damages for stock losses to former shareholders who say they had been duped into making dubious investments, according to a court official and media reports.

A court official confirmed the ruling but declined to elaborate. Kyodo News reported that the court awarded damages totaling 1.4 billion yen (US$15 million).

The report said 400 individual shareholders had filed the lawsuit, demanding 4.4 billion yen.

Takafumi Horie, 36, a "dot com" star before his 2006 arrest, was later convicted of securities laws violations. The Tokyo District Court sentenced him to two and a half years in prison, a decision also upheld by Tokyo's high court last year.

Horie, who has resigned as Livedoor chief executive, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and is appealing to Japan's Supreme Court while out on bail.

Shareholders in the lawsuit say they racked up massive losses when Livedoor stock plunged. The suit is a civil case and is separate from the pending criminal trial of Horie.

Hundreds of other shareholders have also filed similar damages suit against Horie and his company.

The Tokyo District Court found Horie, other former Livedoor executives and the company were responsible in concocting fraudulent exchanges of stock to falsify the company's performance.

Livedoor, which had attracted many individual investors because of Horie's high profile, was delisted in 2006 after police raided Livedoor's Tokyo office.

Japanese courts say Horie and former colleagues used stock swaps and other dubious maneuvers to inflate Livedoor books and share price.


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