Police raid Japanese Internet Company on suspicion of violating securities laws

Accusers on Monday raided Japanese Internet company Livedoor Co., whose outspoken chief executive had grown into a star here for trying to buy media conglomerates and running in nationwide elections. About twenty officials walked into Livedoor headquarters in Tokyo Monday evening. NHK TV, Fuji TV and TBS TV reported the company was being investigated on suspicion of violating securities laws.

Prior to the raid, Livedoor denied reports about any wrongdoing or an investigation.

The Tokyo prosecutors' office refused to comment.

Takafumi Horie, Livedoor president and chief executive, is is a big celebrity in Japan, often appearing on TV shows.

He was heralded as a hero by some for his startup success and for challenging Japan's stodgy business elite, while being criticized in more established circles for his brash and defiant ways, including favoring T-shirts over suits and ties.

Horie has made a fortune buying up various companies and has written books on how to make money in the Internet business. He shot to fame with the Japanese public in 2004 when he tried but failed to buy an ailing professional baseball team.

He also made an unsuccessful hostile takeover bid for Fuji Television Network Inc. He ran in parliamentary elections last year as an independent supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party but did not get elected.

Such failures, however, merely drew more attention to Horie and his company.

A dropout of the prestigious University of Tokyo, Horie has recently been appearing in quiz and travel shows and a TV ad for Livedoor. He has caused a stir because takeovers and headstrong management are still relatively rare in this traditionally conformist society, the AP reports. D.M.

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