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Wed, Jul 26, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Japanese media worker charged with insider trading

AFP , TOKYO

Investigators filed charges yesterday against an employee of Japan's top business newspaper, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, for allegedly racking up profits through insider trading.

The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission said it filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors against Kazumasa Sasahara, 31, who works in the daily's advertising section.

"We need to check the transparency of the securities market and stop some members of the media who engage in abuse of trust and are negligent toward society," said Kiyotaka Sasaki, head of the commission's Special Investigative Committee.

"Especially when these members have an active influence on the markets and the business world, this is no doubt considered a crime," Sasaki told reporters.

Sasahara was charged with obtaining advance information that the stocks of five companies' would be split in value before the announcement was made public.

From Dec. 13 of last year to Feb. 1, Sasahara invested ¥240 million (US$2 million) to buy 940,000 shares from companies including Nishimatsuya, which specializes in baby clothes, Imura Envelope and the IT firm CRC Solutions.

Sasahara sold the shares soon after the announcements, pocketing a hefty ¥30 million (US$250,000) in profit.

Sasahara allegedly obtained the information from another employee, who in turn heard the details through a worker at an advertising agency involved in the public announcement of the stock splits.

The newspaper, a must-read for Japanese business leaders who call it the "Nikkei," ran a front-page apology in February and an executive resigned to take responsibility. But it noted that Sasahara acquired the shares with his personal money, not the company's.

Media reports said Sasahara would be arrested soon. He faces a maximum three-year sentence or a ¥30 million fine.

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