TOKYO, JAPAN - Japan's controversial Livedoor Internet tycoon Takafumi Horie is to be jailed after the country's Supreme Court rejected his appeal against conviction for accounting fraud, a court official said Tuesday.
Horie was found guilty by the district court in 2007 and sentenced to two-and-a-half years for falsely reporting a pre-tax profit of five billion yen (S$75.26 million at today's rates) to hide losses at the Internet service provider.
An appeal to the High Court in 2008 was rejected, leading him to the Supreme Court.
But on Monday the Supreme Court's third petty bench led by judge Mutsuo Tahara turned down the Livedoor founder for a final time, media reported.
"I'll object, but I may be put inside in a month or so," Horie, who remains free on bail after an initial 40-day detention, said on micro-blogging site Twitter after the decision.
"I may be there for about two years and four months, maybe..." Horie, 38, was once the darling of the Japanese media, which portrayed him as a harbinger of a new, rougher style of business in a country known for consensus and playing by the rules.
The brash University of Tokyo literature dropout, who prefers T-shirts to business suits, became a household name with his start-up style that broke the rules of Japan Inc. and made him a hero with many young people.
He made news in 2004 when he attempted to take over Osaka's indebted Kintetsu Buffaloes baseball team.
The following year he launched a rare hostile takeover bid for Nippon Broadcasting System from TV broadcaster Fuji Television, which failed but led Fuji to take a minority stake in Livedoor.
Dating leading actresses and known to zoom around Tokyo in a Ferrari, his nickname was "Horiemon", a play on the blue robot cat "Doraemon", a popular manga cartoon character.
In May 2009 the dotcom tycoon and his aides were ordered to pay seven billion yen in damages to shareholders in his former firm over the fraud.
The Tokyo District Court ruled that the 3,340 investors had suffered losses from a plunge in the share price of Horie's Livedoor after the fraud scandal surfaced in early 2006.
The individual and corporate investors in the suit had sought 23 billion yen in damages from him and the firm's 22 other former executives.
He has reached an out-of-court agreement with Livedoor, now called LDH Corp., to pay the company 20.1 billion yen in damages, almost equal to all of his assets.
"I thought as president I had to take the civil responsibility for compensating the company. I am not as much of a money-worshipper as people in general want to describe me," he said on his blog.
Despite the disgrace, Horie had remained defiant. In a rare media appearance in 2008 after his arrest, he accused Japanese prosecutors of cooking up the fraud scandal to shoot him down.
Horie has since published about 20 books, defending his case and featuring essays, interviews and novels, as well as a magazine that had more than 10,000 subscribers in November.
He has about 600,000 followers on Twitter, making him one of Japan's most popular micro-bloggers on the service.
In the wake of the March 11 quake-tsunami, he has used Twitter to disseminate information on the whereabouts of disaster victims. He delivered relief goods to the destroyed town of Onagawa nine days after the quake.
On the business side, he has started the company SNS Inc which is developing a small liquid fuel rocket that was test-launched this month, with the goal of sending up a mini-satellites by 2014.