TOKYO: Fallen Japanese internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges related to the corporate scandal at Livedoor, the online retailing firm he once led.

Horie, whose rise and fall captivated the nation, was arrested with several associates at the beginning of the year [WAMN: 24-Jan-06], accused of manipulating the company's profits, allegations he firmly denied when he appeared in a Tokyo court yesterday.

The four colleagues arrested with him, including Livedoor's cfo, have already admitted the charges but Horie told the court that he was "offended" by the allegations.

He added: "I regret this indictment. I have never done such things and I didn't order such things either."

Horie is accused of instructing his subordinates to artificially raise profit figures to maintain the internet's firm growth profile. Prosecutors also claim he used unscrupulous methods to buy other companies and to hide Livedoor's growing losses.

Prosecutors will have to prove that Horie was aware of wrongdoing and conspired with other executives.

He came to the Japanese public's attention last year during his aggressive bid to take control of broadcaster Fuji Television Networks [WAMN: 19-Apr-05]. His brash style was distinctly at odds with the hitherto sober and courteous dealings of the country's business community.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff