Sonic Co-Creator Yuji Naka Admits to Insider Trading

With the help of insider information, Naka bought about 130,000 shares and managed to make over $146,000 in profit when he sold them.

The former head of Sonic Team and ex-Square Enix employee Yuji Naka has acknowledged his involvement in an insider trading scheme at Square Enix, admitting to charges of violating Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act based on illegally purchasing shares through the use of confidential information.

As reported by VGC, per Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Naka admitted that he had "no doubt" committed the alleged offense.

According to the prosecution, Naka gained knowledge of upcoming Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games due to his position at Square Enix. He purchased shares in the titles' developers, Aiming and ATeam Entertainment, and resold them for a significantly higher price, as the value of shares increased after the announcement of the titles. It is claimed that Naka gained over ¥20 million ($146,000) upon the sale of these shares.

Naka was first arrested in November of last year for purchasing shares in Japanese developer Aiming before the official announcement of Dragon Quest Tact. He was then arrested once more in December, this time alongside another former Square Enix employee Taisuke Sazaki.

On March 2, 2023, the first trial took place in the Tokyo District Court, during which Yuji Naka pleaded guilty. "There is no doubt that I found out about the games before they were made public and bought shares in them," he said.

Naka started his career as a video game developer at SEGA, where he worked from 1984 to 2006. After that, he founded his own studio Prope and later moved to Square Enix, where, among other things, he directed the production of the critical failure Balan Wonderworld. He left Square Enix shortly after the game's release.

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