Livedoor Founder Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years

Japanese intenet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie was sentenced to two and a half year in prison by a Japanese magistrate today. Horie, founder of Livedoor, a well known Japanese dotcom startup, was arrested last year for stock improprieties.

Horie's attorney claims such rulings will stifle the entrepreneurial spirit in Japan, the Associated Press reported.

Horie tumbled from stardom when prosecutors raided his company last year and then arrested him. He was kept incarcerated for three months, but he did not sign a confession as most suspects tend to do in Japan, often to win lighter sentences.

Some Livedoor shareholders were pleased by the verdict, saying it recognized the financial damages they suffered because of the fraudulent accounting.

Livedoor, which operated an Internet portal and offered Web-related services, drew a large number of individual investors, partly because of Horie's fame. Those investors, many of them amateurs at the stock market, took big losses when Livedoor shares nose-dived after Horie's arrest and were later delisted.

About 3,600 individual investors have sued Horie and Livedoor for damages, saying they were duped to buy falsely valued shares.