Fuji suits seeks damages from Livedoor

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TOKYO -- Fuji Television Network Inc. filed a damages suit against Livedoor Co. on Monday, seeking damages for what the broadcaster claims were huge losses caused by revelations of fraud at the dotcom.

Japan's largest private broadcaster is seeking compensation of some ¥34.55 billion ($292.6 million) from the company set up by former Internet mogul Takafumie Horie, who was sentenced earlier this month to two-and-a-half years in prison for illegally manipulating earnings at Livedoor.

Officials from both Livedoor and Fuji TV refused comment on the ongoing case, though Kyodo News reported that Fuji TV decided to go ahead with the suit at the Tokyo District Court after a series of guilty rulings in cases involving accounting fraud and other breaches of the securities law involving Livedoor.

Fuji TV claims that it has lost money on its shareholdings in the company that Horie built as a result of criminal actions by Livedoor's management. Fuji purchased shares in the company for ¥44 billion when it was riding high, but only earned ¥9.5 billion after prosecutors opened an investigation into the company last year and Horie was arrested. In the days that followed, Livedoor's value plummeted.

Despite written requests for redress, Livedoor has thus far refused to pay compensation and already faces compensation suits from trust banks and about 3,500 individual investors seeking a total of some ¥23 billion ($194 million) in damages.

Livedoor also is expected to file a damages suit against its former management for the precarious situation the company finds itself in. It has been fined ¥280 million ($2.4 million) for irregularities in its acounts. Several moneymaking branches of the company have had to be sold off and the remaining organizaton is trying to stabilize its business.

Horie has appealed the guilty ruling by the Tokyo court and claims he has not broken the law. He is presently out on bail and has expressed an interest in setting up a space tourism company.


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