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Tokyo Stock Exchange to Delist Livedoor

Updated:
TOKYO (AP) _ Shares of disgraced Japanese Internet startup Livedoor Co. will be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange next month over alleged securities law violations, the exchange said Monday.

The exchange will remove Livedoor's stock _ which has fallen 90 percent in the last two months _ from the so-called Mothers market of emerging companies on April 14, the TSE said in a statement.

The stock will be removed after a month on the bourse's liquidation post, during which shares can still be traded, the exchange said. A subsidiary, Livedoor Marketing Co., will be delisted on the same day, it said.

The announcement came after Japan's securities commission filed a criminal complaint against four former Livedoor executives and a current executive on suspicion of doctoring the company's financial report for the year to Sept. 30, 2004, in breach of the Securities and Exchange Law.

The securities watchdog alleged that the Livedoor executives were involved in window-dressing the company's pretax profit by about 5.35 billion yen ($45 million) for the fiscal year.

In addition to Horie, 33, the complaint filed with the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office names Ryoji Miyauchi, Fumito Okamoto and Osanari Nakamura, all 38, as well as Fumito Kumagai, 28.

The commission also has asked prosecutors to indict Livedoor as a corporate entity on the same charges. Prosecutors were expected to indict the five executives on Tuesday, news reports said.

Livedoor was first raided by prosecutors in early January. Horie and three ex-executives were arrested later that month and indicted on charges of using stock swaps and stock splits to artificially inflate stock prices, and of giving false information about earnings of a subsidiary. Kumagai was arrested in February.

A brash entrepreneur who became a celebrity in Japan for his takeover attempts, blunt language and flashy lifestyle, Horie has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation set off a huge sell-off in the Japanese stock market in mid-January and wreaked havoc with the exchange's computerized trading system. The bourse has since shortened its afternoon trading session by 30 minutes.

Livedoor's shares have plummeted by more than 90 percent since early January, when it was trading at close to 700 yen ($6). It finished at 66 yen (56 U.S. cents) on Monday, unchanged from the day before.

A group of individual investors in Livedoor is already discussing how to seek compensation from the company. So far, over 1,000 investors have registered with the group, which was set up in February, according to the group's Web site.

It said the members' losses would amount to 5.2 billion yen ($44 million) if calculated at 70 yen (60 U.S. cents) a share.

Violating securities laws carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and 5 million yen ($42,000) in fines.
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