Yuji Naka, the famed Japanese gaming creator, has been arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office for insider trading charges. Naka, 57, designed Sega and also created Sonic the Hedgehog as well as worked on Dragon Quest games while employed with Square Enix studio in 2020, Kotaku reports.
Naka, 38-year-old Taisuke Sazaki, and Fumiaki Suzuki – all former Square Enix staff, were arrested on charges of insider trading malpractices when they were still in the employ of Square Enix. According to investigators, Square Enix and another gaming studio, Aiming, had contracted to develop a new Dragon Quest game called Tact.
When the trio of Square Enix employees learned that their company was working with Aiming to develop Tact, they all allegedly bought shares in Aiming before the project was made public in February 2020. Based on the privy information they had of the deal, Suzuki allegedly bought 162,000 Aiming shares worth 47.2 million yen ($336,760) from December 2019 to February 2020.
Naka was said to have purchased 10,000 Aiming shares for 2.8 million yen ($20,000) before the Square-Aiming deal was publicly announced. And Sazaki was accused of buying shares worth 26.4 million yen ($188,000). As at the time of their arrest on Thursday, it is not clear if the three men still own the shares or if they had sold them off for higher profits.
While Naka also worked on NiGHTS Into Dreams and Phantasy Star as well as Balan Wonderland while working with Square Enix, Sazaki worked on Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games.
“We have been fully cooperating with requests from the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission,” Square Enix said in an official statement. “We deeply regret the great concern this has caused to all concerned. We have dealt with this incident strictly, including internal disciplinary actions taken against the suspected employees.”