[JURIST] Japanese Internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie [Wikipedia profile], 34, was convicted of securities law violations on Friday and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Horie, whose rebellious style made him a media celebrity [fan website], received a harsher penalty than the suspended sentence that most convicted executives receive when they plead guilty and show remorse. Horie denies deceiving shareholders of his Internet portal company Livedoor [corporate website, in Japanese] which grew to a market value of US $6 billion. The tough sentence has prompted concerns that young Japanese innovators will be discouraged from pursuing new business ventures in a culture dominated by corporate dynasties.
According to Chief Judge Toshiyuki Kosaka of the Tokyo District Court, Horie created decoy investment funds, falsifying their accounts and profits "for the purpose of evading the law." Since his arrest last year [BBC report], Horie has faulted the company's chief financial officer for the accounting discrepancies. Horie announced plans to appeal the decision. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.