Former Square Enix Employee Sentenced to Probation & Hefty Fine in Insider Trading Case

Published: June 8, 2023 4:13 AM /


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Today TV Asahi's ANN News reported that a former Square Enix employee has been sentenced to probation on top of a hefty fine in the ongoing insider trading case.

Defendant Taisuke Sazaki (39) has been sentenced by the Tokyo District Court to three years of jail time suspended with five years of probation. The Japanese legal system allows for jail time for non-repeat offenders to be replaced by a number of years of "suspended sentence." This is basically the equivalent of a period of probation in which the defendant must not commit further crimes and fulfill possible additional conditions on pain of having to serve the original jail time if they violate the probation.

On top of the probation sentence, Sazaki-san was also ordered to pay a 4 million yen fine plus an additional 176 million yen charge, translating into almost $1.3 million at the current exchange rates. 

This is the same insider trading case that also sees the involvement of Sonic creator Yuji Naka, for whom the prosecutor asked two years and six months in prison approximately $1.2 million in fines and additional charges. Differently from Naka-san, for whom the ruling still has to be handed down in July, this is the actual sentence for Sazaki-san. 

The defendant worked at Square Enix on several games, mostly in the capacity of Technical Production Associate, including Kingdom Hearts 3, NieR: Automata, Final Fantasy XIV, Final Fantasy XV, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, and more. 

The motivation for the sentence was that Sazaki-san "had a negative effect on the fairness of the financial instruments market, and the crime was conducted maliciously. That being said, the court suspended the jail time with probation due to the fact that he pleaded guilty and had a remorseful attitude. Five years is the maximum period allowed for probation, and it's available only for sentences of up to three years, which means that the court did indeed stop just short of having the defendant serve actual prison time if he respects the probation period.

Both Naka-san and Sazaki-san are accused of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act by illegally purchasing shares in the game development studio that worked on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest mobile games based on insider information acquired while performing their duties at Square Enix. Knowing the announcements ahead of time provided them with the awareness that the shares would grow in value. Naka-san already admitted his guilt and apologized to the court. Considering the sentence requested for Naka-san by the prosecutor is under three years of jail time, he may end up having to serve probation as well, albeit we'll know more on July 7. 

Below you can check out the full report from ANN News.   



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