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|Japan internet boss trial begins |
(20 minutes later)
One of Japan's best-known businessmen has pleaded not guilty to charges of financial crime.
The flamboyant 33-year-old entrepreneur Takafumi Horie is accused of inflating the profits of his internet company Livedoor by nearly $50m (Â£26m).
Mr Horie had risen to become a media star and political celebrity as head of the company, but stepped down when he was arrested earlier this year.
No verdict is expected in the case until next year.
Prosecutors say Mr Horie he committed securities fraud by grossly exaggerating the profits of his firm, Livedoor.
Dressed in a black suit and blue tie, Mr Horie gave a broad smile as he sat down after denying the charges.
He is pleading innocent, but other senior executives from the company, including the chief financial offer, have already admitted wrongdoing.
Mr Horie had built up a valuable corporate empire based around his internet business, challenged Japan's business establishment and become a friend of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
The fraud allegations caused a shock on the financial markets, sending shares plunging in Tokyo and around the world.
Mr Horie's trial is also an embarrassment for Mr Koizumi, who had enjoyed the businessman's support for his programme of political reform.