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  • Report: Yuji Naka Facing 2.5 Years Imprisonment for Insider Trading [U]

    Also charged with two fines totalling over ¥170 million.

    Former Sonic Team leader and Balan Wonderworld director Yuji Naka could be facing two and a half years in prison for insider trading relating to his time at publisher Square Enix, according to a new Japanese report this morning.

    The co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog concluded his third trial on the matter today, according to Denfaminicogamer.jp, with prosecuting lawyers demanding that Naka serve the jail time, alongside two additional fines of ¥2.5 million and ¥170 million.

    A full sentencing has not yet been made, and Naka's defence team is seeking to reduce the fines levied against him, as well as a suspension of the sentence (whether this means a delayed start to the sentence or a full-blown cancellation remains to be seen). A final decision is expected in the courts on July 7th.

    The fines mentioned likely relate to the two individual offences that the developer was alleged to have committed in relation to insider trading - on one count, a purchase of ¥2.8 million of stock in DRAGON QUEST TACT developer Aiming Inc, and another count of a ¥144.7 million stock investment in Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier developer ATeam.

    The investments were made prior to the news of these games' development becoming public knowledge, which Naka testified was a mistake on account of accidentally being privy to such insider information via an administration error.

    Naka was previously employed by Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix from 2018 to 2021, working with Sonic co-creator Naoto Ohshima and his team at Arzest to produce Balan Wonderworld. Before that game's launch, he was removed from the project, and since then the creative has been embroiled in a series of court cases and arrests relating to his time at the company.

    Update: A previous version of this article referenced TheGamer, which appears to have incorrectly reported that Yuji Naka had been fully sentenced at trial. According to further reports by Genki, no sentencing has yet taken place and a final verdict is due July 7th. We have corrected the story to reflect the full details.

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    Shaddy Zaphod


    I've had intensely mixed feelings about this whole affair. On the one hand, Yuji Naka is a prick; On the other, I can't actually begrudge him for this kind of financial crime, because BOY do I not give a shit about the people whose money he got from it. It's like if someone robbed Jeff Bezos' house, I'd be more impressed than anything.

    I think I mostly just wish he were being punished first and foremost for being an asshole to his workers, instead.

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    Just a quick update to the story; it appears that sentencing has not yet happened. The final verdict is due on July 7th. But prosecutors are demanding that Naka is put in jail for the 2.5 year period mentioned, as well as paying those fees. Naka's defence team is, obviously, going to fight it.

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    Blue Blood


    5 hours ago, Shaddy Zaphod said:

    I've had intensely mixed feelings about this whole affair. On the one hand, Yuji Naka is a prick; On the other, I can't actually begrudge him for this kind of financial crime, because BOY do I not give a shit about the people whose money he got from it. It's like if someone robbed Jeff Bezos' house, I'd be more impressed than anything.

    I think I mostly just wish he were being punished first and foremost for being an asshole to his workers, instead.

    I understand where you're coming from, but don't really agree. The fact that his crimes were committed against wealthy and likely corrupt entities doesn't make a difference here. It's not like this was a poor man stealing from the rich to feed his family. He should be rightly prosecuted for his crimes here. And I'm just going to sidestep the fact that he's a proven twat because it's not really relevant. 

    The bigger issue at hand is the corruption and abuse of power that takes place in the stock markets. That shit needs sorting out. From what I've read, insider trading is commonplace in Japan and despite how seriously it is taken, successful prosecutions are difficult to produce. It wouldn't surprise me if his behaviour at- and since leaving Square Enix has resulted in him being stitched up. Stitched up for crimes he obviously did commit, but stitched up all the same.

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