Former Sonic Team head Yuji Naka has recently been indicted in an insider trading case in Japan, and the first court hearing has been held.
During the hearing, Naka-san admitted guilt responding "there is no mistake" when faced with the accusations, as reported today by Japan's state TV NHK.
Naka-san was accused of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act by illegally purchasing shares in companies in Tokyo and Nagoya based on insider information. Specifically, he had learned that these companies were going to develop games for Square Enix while he was working on Balan Wonderworld, so he purchased their shares knowing that they would grow in value when the new games were announced.
During the hearing, it was reported that Naka-san used the authority as a senior manager at Square Enix to access an internal website containing minutes from investment meetings and learn about the co-development of new mobile games within the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy franchises. He then purchased a total of 130,000 shares making a profit of over 20 million yen. At the current exchange rate, that translates to over $146,000.
Yuji Naka is known for being one of the minds behind the creation of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. He announced his departure from Sega in 2006 and launched his own studio Prope with which he released a few games including Rodea the Sky Soldier. In 2018 he joined Square Enix to lead a wholly owned subsidiary that would help facilitate collaborations with external studios, starting with Balan Wonderworld, co-developed with Arzest.
The game launched in 2021 to mediocre reviews and mixed reactions, and Naka-san has since attempted to shift the responsibility for the game's final quality and alleged unfinished status on the management at Square Enix and Azrest.
Featured image courtesy of Yuji Naka's Twitter account.