When someone within a company makes a killing from a perfectly timed stock trade, you might be able to write it off as luck. When it happens twice, something starts to smell fishy. When more than one person benefitted in both instances, it might be time to start looking into how multiple people got so lucky.
It appears that police have arrested Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka once again. The former Sonic Team head got arrested in November on insider trading charges related to the Dragon Quest Tact mobile game for Android and iOS. According to Japanese news outlet Asahi, police have collared Naka again on similar but separate charges.
Naka’s most recent arrest is over his involvement in purchasing shares in the mobile game developer ATeam. Authorities alleged that Naka bought 120,000 ATeam shares for 144.7 million yen or just over $1 million US. The purchase itself is not illegal. However, the timing was suspiciously close to Square Enix’s 2021 announcement that ATeam would head up production of the then-upcoming FFVII spinoff game titled “Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier” for Android and iOS.
Police also arrested Taisuke Sasaki under the same suspicions. Sasaki was one of three suspects, including Naka, who was arrested last month in the Dragon Quest insider trading scandal. He allegedly bought about 10,000 ATeam shares valued at 11.8 million yen or approximately $86,000 US.
It is unclear whether the stock purchases occurred while the men were still working for Square Enix. The previous insider trading allegation placed their involvement just before or right after Naka left the publisher in 2020. Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier was announced in February 2021 and launched in November of the same year. However, there seems to be a pattern of fortuitous stock purchases emerging.
Sasaki’s resume with Square Enix includes work on Kingdom Hearts III, Dragon Quest XI, and NieR: Automata. Naka has a long history in the games industry, his latest work being Square Enix’s flop Balen World. However, he is better known for coming up with the character Sonic the Hedgehog and co-creating the titular Sega franchise.
The men are charged with violating Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. Authorities alleged Naka and Sasaki profited hundreds of thousands of yen from the illegal transactions. Asahi did not mention whether the two were released on bail nor any other legal details, such as court dates or potential penalties if found guilty.