A crucial witness to events at Livedoor, the Japanese internet group, appeared to have committed suicide on Thursday, complicating the investigation into alleged market manipulation and financial wrongdoing by the company.
Hideaki Noguchi, a former Livedoor group executive, was confirmed dead in the southern prefecture of Okinawa. There was no official statement on the cause of death, but Japanese broadcasters said he was found with his wrists slit.
Mr Noguchi, who was representative vice-president of HS Securities, a Tokyo broker, had previously been a senior executive in Livedoor group companies.
Livedoor and its subsidiaries were raided by the Tokyo Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday. An HS Securities subsidiary was involved in some of Livedoor’s acquisitions, which are being investigated by the prosecutors.
Livedoor confirmed that it was conducting an internal probe into allegations that the company and its subsidiaries provided misleading information and rigged their books.
Mr Noguchi’s employer, HS Securities, was also investigated by prosecutors on Monday in connection with its raid on Livedoor.
HS Securities said that an investment partnership set up by its subsidiary Japan M&A Management, had acquired shares in two companies – Cueznet, an online matchmaking company, and Royal Shinpan, a consumer credit company – which were subsequently sold to Livedoor. “We have determined that those transactions were made lawfully,” HS Securities said. However, prosecutors are looking into whether or not Livedoor included the profits of Royal Shinpan and Cueznet in its own accounts before it actually acquired the companies, according to Japanese media reports.
Japan M&A Management was also the adviser to Livedoor Marketing on the merger ratio when it acquired Money Life, a publisher, in a share swap.
Livedoor on Thursday denied allegations that its subsidiary, Livedoor Marketing, misled the market when it announced that it would acquire Money Life.