Yuji Naka

Yuji Naka arrested for insider trading

Naka bought Dragon Quest shares using inside knowledge while at Square Enix.

Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator and former Sonic Team chief Yuji Naka was detained in Tokyo for insider trading. The Asahi Shimbun daily confirmed the revelation, initially reported by FNN.

Naka allegedly acquired Aiming shares in early 2020 based on inside information that it was creating Dragon Quest Tact. Square Enix’s connection with Aiming wasn’t known yet, and Naka was working on Balan Wonderworld.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested Naka after learning about Dragon Quest Tact in late January 2020, before the game’s debut the following month. It’s assumed he hoped to profit from a rise in the share price following the game’s announcement and release, but it’s not known if he sold the shares.

Naka’s arrest Friday followed two other former Square Enix workers’ arrests the day before. Investigators said Taisuke Sazaki and Fumiaki Suzuki purchased 336,000 shares of Aiming between late 2019 and early 2020, after Suzuki knew of Dragon Quest Tact in November 2019.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, Sazaki and Suzuki sold their Aiming shares after the launch of Dragon Quest Tact in February 2020. Sources suggest Sazaki was on the Dragon Quest Tact development team. Balan Wonderworld’s credits thanked Sazaki.

Polygon has contacted Square Enix. Square Enix announced in a statement Thursday that Sazaki and Suzuki were arrested for alleged insider trading. We’ve complied with SEC demands. We’ll continue to cooperate with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s inquiry. We’re sorry for everyone’s worry. We’ve handled this situation strictly, including disciplining the suspects internally.

Naka and Ohshima co-created Sonic the Hedgehog. Naka’s programming allowed the 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog’s fast-moving, fluid graphics. Naka left Sega in 2006 and worked as an independent developer before joining Square Enix in 2018.

Game development flopped. Balan Wonderworld was released in March 2021 to bad reviews and controversies for seizure-inducing flashing. In April 2022, Naka disclosed he was fired six months before the game’s release, sued Square Enix for his departure, and apologised to fans for the “unfinished” game.

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