Former Sonic Team leader and Balan Wonderworld director Yuji Naka has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for insider trading relating to his time at publisher Square Enix, according to a new Japanese report this morning.
The co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog concluded his third trial on the matter today, according to Denfaminicogamer.jp, with the courts and prosecution demanding that Naka serve the jail time, alongside two additional fines of ¥2.5 million and ¥170 million.
The fines likely relate to the two individual offences that the developer was alleged to have committed in relation to insider trading – on one count, a purchase of ¥2.8 million of stock in DRAGON QUEST TACT developer Aiming Inc, and another count of a ¥144.7 million stock investment in Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier developer ATeam.
The investments were made prior to the news of these games’ development becoming public knowledge, which Naka testified was a mistake on account of accidentally being privy to such insider information via an administration error. That defence evidently did not seem to be well received by the court.
In response, Naka’s defence team is seeking to reduce the fines levied against him, as well as a suspension of the sentence (whether this means a delayed start to the sentence or a full-blown cancellation remains to be seen).
Naka was previously employed by Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix from 2018 to 2021, working with Sonic co-creator Naoto Ohshima and his team at Arzest to produce Balan Wonderworld. Before that game’s launch, he was removed from the project, and since then the creative has been embroiled in a series of court cases and arrests relating to his time at the company.