Yuji Naka, the famed game designer known for co-creating Sonic the Hedgehog, has reportedly admitted guilt for taking part in insider trading during his time at Square Enix. In late 2022, Naka was arrested twice on suspicion of using insider knowledge of new Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games to profit financially from the booming shares of their respective developers.
According to NHK (via VGC), Naka has now admitted guilt, telling a court there is ‘no doubt’ he had done as alleged. The initial investigation flagged that Naka had allegedly purchased ¥2.8 million (AU $30,000) worth of shares in Dragon Quest: Tact developer, Aiming, with the intention to sell after the game’s release boosted share prices.
A second investigation, which led to another arrest, alleged that Naka had also carried out a similar plot upon learning of the existence of Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier, a mobile game from studio ATeam Entertainment.
As detailed by NHK, the court allegedly heard that Naka had accessed a website containing knowledge of upcoming games, and this was leveraged in the purchases of shares in both studios. Naka reportedly earned around ¥20 million (AU $217,000) from the sale of these shares.
Former Square Enix employees Taisuke Sazaki and Fumiaki Suzuki were also allegedly involved in a similar scheme – however, their trials have not yet been detailed. Square Enix has committed to aiding authorities during the investigation, and expressed deep regret about the situation.
For now, the outcome of Yuji Naka’s court appearance is unknown. His reported admission of guilt will likely lead to further charges, due to insider trading being strictly against Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. Stay tuned for further developments in this case.