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Internet entrepreneur denies fraud charges

Takafumi Horie stands accused of illegally boosting the share price of his Livedoor portal
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Written by Graeme Wearden on

The Japanese businessman who created the Livedoor Web portal appeared in court on Monday charged with violating the country's securities laws.

Takafumi Horie, 31, is accused of illegally boosting Livedoor's stock price. The prosecution claims that Livedoor executives had created "dummy" companies to hide Livedoor's losses, falsely inflated the firm's earnings, and circulated false information.

Appearing at a court in Tokyo, Horie denied the charges.

"I never committed the crimes alleged in the indictment, and I gave no instructions to anybody to commit such wrongdoings," Horie said, according to reports.

At its peak, Livedoor and its subsidiaries were valued at around $6bn. Horie himself was seen as a thrusting example of a new, aggressive breed of businessman.

Horie and other top Livedoor executives were arrested back in January 2006. This caused Livedoor's share price to plummet, wiping out $4bn of value. The Tokyo stock market's computer systems nearly crashed as traders rushed to offload their shares.

Takashi Betsui of CNET Japan contributed to this report.

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