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Former Square Enix Employee Taisuke Sasaki Handed Suspended Sentence, 180 Million Yen Fine for Insider Trading

posted on by Egan Loo
Sasaki's case also tied to game director, Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka

The Tokyo District Court found former Square Enix employee Taisuke Sasaki guilty of insider trading and handed him a suspended 3-year prison sentence on Thursday. (If Sasaki remains in good behavior for five years, he will not serve time in prison.) The court also ordered Sasaki to pay a 4 million yen (about US$29,000) fine in addition to a 176 million yen (US$1.26 million) penalty.

The prosecution had previously sought a 3.5-year prison sentence, along with the same 4 million yen fine and 176 million yen penalty that Sasaki ultimately received. Presiding Judge Kenji Yasunaga noted that the final suspended sentence reflects the fact that Sasaki acknowledged what he had done and showed remorse. However, the fine and penalty also reflect that Sasaki's crime had consequences on the fairness and robustness of the financial instruments market.


The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office charged Sasaki and his acquaintance Fumiaki Suzuki on November 17 on suspicion of insider trading (buying or selling stock on the basis of nonpublic information). Prosecutors then charged game programmer and director Yuji Naka on November 18 on suspicion of insider trading. Sasaki and Suzuki allegedly invested in the company Aiming after they learned that it was developing the Dragon Quest Tact smartphone game in collaboration with Square Enix.

The same prosecutors office charged Naka a second time on December 7, on suspicion of insider trading, or buying/selling stock on the basis of nonpublic information. While still at Square Enix, Naka allegedly invested in Ateam, developers of the company's Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier mobile game, prior to the game's announcement. Sasaki was also once again charged for the same reason. They are suspected of purchasing about 120,000 shares of Ateam for about 144.7 million yen (about US$1 million).

Prosecutors are recommending that Naka serve 2.5 years in prison and pay a 2.5 million yen fine in addition to a 170 million yen penalty, for a total of 172.5 million yen (about US$1.24 million).

Naka joined Square Enix in January 2018, and resigned from the company at the end of April 2021. He had stated at the time that he could not explain the reason for the resignation, but would talk about it publicly when the time came. Naka revealed in April 2022 that he had filed a lawsuit against Square Enix for supposedly removing him as the director of the Balan Wonderworld game six months before the game launched.

Naka worked for 22 years at Sega. He is the former head of the Sonic Team and lead programmer of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games for Sega Genesis. He also worked on such games as Nights into Dreams and Phantasy Star Online while at Sega.

Naka is the president and CEO of the PROPE game development company, which he founded in 2006 after leaving Sega. At PROPE, he worked on such games as Fishing Resort, Buddy Monster, and Legend of Coin.

Sources: Nikkei, TV Asahi via Hachima Kikō

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