Yuki Naka, the former head of Sonic Team, is now standing trial at the Tokyo District Court over charges of insider trading after an investigation at Square Enix.
The creator had allegedly invested in development companies based on information gained prior to it being made publically available, thus pre-empting the inevitable rise in stock value. After investing approximately ¥144.7 million (about $834,000 USD) in ATeam Entertainment and approximately ¥47 million (about $336,300 USD) in Aiming, he had intended to resell his stock at what he presumed would be a much higher price once the teams' involvement in Square Enix projects was made public.
As spotted by our good pals over at Time Extension, it appears Naka has now effectively admitted guilt over the case during his first trial on March 2nd, 2023, stating "there is no doubt that I learned the facts about the game before it was announced and bought the stock".
Yuji Naka made waves in the video game industry for his contributions to the Sonic franchise during the Mega Drive / Genesis era, acting as Programmer / Producer on the first three mainline Sonic titles. He left Sega in 2006 to pursue a new development company called Prope, which made a number of Street Pass games for 3DS, before creating the much maligned Balan Wonderworld for Square Enix in 2021.
Meanwhile, Takashi Iizuka, the current head of Sonic Team, is set to move into a new role as Sonic Creative Officer at Sega of America. Iizuka worked with Naka on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 as a game designer, and has maintained a significant role with the franchise since.
We'll be sure to keep you posted on further updates on Yuji Naka's court case as it happens.