Shares of once-highflying Japanese Internet company Livedoor Co. plummeted 33% to 61 yen, or 52 cents, in Tokyo trading Monday, as investors bailed out before the indictment of the company’s former chief executive.
As expected, prosecutors late Monday charged Takafumi Horie with breaking securities laws by spreading false information and falsifying accounts.
Three other former executives also were indicted: Chief Financial Officer Ryoji Miyauchi, Director Fumito Okamoto and Osanari Nakamura, the Tokyo prosecutors’ office said.
The sudden fall of Horie and Livedoor triggered a trading crisis on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in January, as stock sales swamped the exchange’s computer system.
Livedoor’s shares have lost 92% of their value since peaking at 785 yen in mid-December.
The flamboyant Horie, a Tokyo University dropout who strung together a collection of Internet businesses, became a symbol of an innovative and dynamic “New Japan.”
Through takeovers and self-promotion, Horie turned his start-up into a $6-billion Internet services company before prosecutors raided it last month on suspicion of securities fraud.
The pudgy, T-shirt-clad Horie, who once drove a Ferrari and lived in Tokyo’s expensive Roppongi Hills complex, is in a tiny cell, reading an encyclopedia between interrogation sessions, according to the Japanese media.
Horie faces as many as five years in prison or a fine of 5 million yen if he is found guilty.
Livedoor apologized in a statement Monday and executives at a news conference said they were considering measures to cope with a possible delisting by the Tokyo Stock Exchange, including selling the company or changing its name. They added that they were conducting their own investigation, but did not confirm whether the company had fudged its books.