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Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka receives suspended prison sentence for insider trading

Along with fine just shy of £1m.

Yuji Naka in a white top hat in front of a board of designs
Image credit: Square Enix

Yuji Naka, Sonic's co-creator and the man behind ill-fated platformer Balan Wonderworld, has been found guilty of insider trading, but will avoid prison for now.

Naka was first arrested back in November 2022 following reports of alleged insider trading at Square Enix. He pleaded guilty in March, and then, in June, the developer was sentenced to serve two and a half years in jail, with a final judgement in July.

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At this time, Naka was additionally fined twice for ¥2.5m and ¥170m (just under £1m total), with his defence seeking a suspended sentence and to lower the fines. They claimed Naka "accidentally saw information that was extremely unrelated to [his] work". However, prosecutors said Naka "showed no signs of remorse" for his actions.

Now, judgement day has come, and Naka has been officially sentenced to two and a half years in prison and four years probation. This means, providing Naka does not break his probation, he will avoid a prison term (thanks, GoNintendo).

Naka has also been fined ¥2m and ¥170m.

Balan Wonderland flopped on its release, selling less than 2100 copies in its opening week in Japan, and failing to make the top 40 in the UK physical chart.

Naka moved to Square Enix from Sega in 2018, where he released Balan Wonderworld.

While he was there, he purchased shares worth ¥2.8m in Aiming, a Japanese developer which Square Enix partnered with to make a Dragon Quest mobile game. This was all done before Aiming's involvement was public knowledge.

Following his initial arrest, Naka was then re-arrested in December of last year for purchasing shares worth ¥144.7m in mobile developer ATeam before Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier was officially announced.

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