Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Well, I hope they're happy now

With the computer systems of the Tokyo Stock Exchange crashing to a complete halt from the number of sell orders, I hope the staff members of at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office are appropriately stunned by what their heavy-handed tactics have wrought.

Their botched raid of Livedoor (on charges so flimsy Tsutsumi Yoshiaki would have considered them an insult) has unhooked the latticework of trust underpinning the 2004-05 revival of the Tokyo stock markets. It is now a smashed, dusty heap. Everyone--retail investors, foreigners, institutions--wants out.

Not that the consequences of their actions ever entered the compressed and underfed minds of the prosecutors. You could seen it in their eyes as they strode purposefully into Roppongi Hills--the hard gleam of fanaticism. Their information told them that they had found some very bad guys. They were going in to punish those bad guys. It was simple.

It seems that what we had was a walk-in, probably a disgruntled former manager of a Livedoor affiliate. With his copies of company emails, he went first to the public prosecutors. The securities regulators were brought in to confirm whether the activities the walk-in was describing were illegal (my guess is that the walk-in has moved on to giving "exclusives" to the Mainichi Shimbun. Just a guess, based on this and this and this). After the securities representatives answered in the affirmative, the prosecutors, egged on by contacts in the business establishment, set off to bring Livedoor and Horie down.

At no point did someone stop and ponder, "Whose interests are being served by our actions?"

Before anyone starts up with "a crime is a crime and must be dealt as such," please tell me how many CEOs of companies in the Keidanren would be behind bars if the the level of scrutiny currently being applied to Livedoor were applied to their accounting and public relations shenanigans.

My guess: all of them.

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