Police nab Sonic creator Yuki Nada on another insider trading charge

What the hell?! When someone within a company makes a killing out of 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 benefited in both cases, it might be time to start looking into how multiple people got so lucky.

It looks like the police have arrested Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka once again. The former head of Sonic Team was 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 re-arrested Naka on similar but separate charges.

Naka’s most recent arrest stems from his involvement in buying shares in mobile game developer ATeam. Authorities alleged that Naka purchased 120,000 ATeam shares for 144.7 million yen or just over US$1 million. The purchase itself is not illegal. However, the timing was suspiciously close to Square Enix’s 2021 announcement that ATeam would be spearheading production on the upcoming FFVII spin-off game titled “Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier” for Android and iOS.

The police also arrested Taisuke Sasaki on 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 purchased about 10,000 ATeam shares valued at 11.8 million yen or approximately US$86,000.

It’s unclear if the stock purchases occurred while the men were still working for Square Enix. The previous accusation of insider trading placed his involvement just before or just after Naka left the publisher in 2020. Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier was announced in February 2021 and released in November of the same year. However, a pattern of random stock purchases appears to be 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 last work being Square Enix’s flop Balen World. However, he is best known for creating the character Sonic the Hedgehog and co-creating Sega’s titular franchise.

The men are accused of violating Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Law. Authorities alleged that Naka and Sasaki profited from hundreds of thousands of yen from the illegal transactions. Asahi did not mention whether the two were released on bail or any other legal details, such as court dates or possible penalties if convicted.

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