Channel News Asia
TOKYO: Disgraced Japanese music producer Tetsuya Komuro has received a suspended three-year jail term for cheating an investor of 500 million yen (5.6 million dollars) in a copyright scam.
Komuro, 50, was once among Asia’s richest men, having produced songs that sold millions of albums for J-Pop sensations such as TRF and globe, but he fell on hard times following a divorce and failed business ventures.
“I apologise from the bottom of my heart,” Komuro said after the Osaka District Court handed down the prison term, which was suspended for five years. “I, Tetsuya Komuro, made a big mistake and committed a grave crime.”
Presiding judge Munehisa Sugita found that Komuro, who was arrested in November and pleaded guilty to fraud, had “employed a very sly scheme of taking advantage of the copyright trading system.”
Komuro had promised an investor the copyright to 806 tunes he had composed or written lyrics for in return for one billion yen, of which half was paid, even though he did not own the rights, the court was told.
The judge said that the cheated investor, who was not identified, had since been reimbursed with some 650 million yen, including settlement money, which the president of a leading music production company put up on Komuro’s behalf.
“The defendant now sincerely regrets (his actions),” the judge said.
Komuro made his debut as a pop producer in 1984 and rose to stardom in the 1990s by forming a group of top-selling artistes dubbed ‘the Komuro Family’ — including diva Namie Amuro as well as singing groups TRF and globe.
During the mid-1990s he gained prominence as one of Asia’s richest men after selling more than 170 million CDs in Asia. He owned Ferraris, luxury cruisers and villas in Hawaii, Bali and Malibu.
But he fell into debt in recent years amid payments to his divorced wife and investment failures. He reportedly lost seven billion yen in a 1996 Hong Kong joint venture with media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.