Yoshiaki Tsutsumi

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Yoshiaki Tsutsumi (堤 義明, Tsutsumi Yoshiaki, born May 29, 1934) is a Japanese businessman. During the Japanese economic bubble in the late 1980s, Tsutsumi was the wealthiest person in the world for a brief period due to his extensive real estate investments through the Seibu Corporation, which he controlled. However, as a result of a series of scandals and his 2005 arrest, his net worth has fallen to such an extent that he was taken off the Forbes list of billionaires in 2007.

In 1964, the thirty-year-old Yoshiaki Tsutsumi inherited control of the Seibu Corporation upon the death of the company founder, his father Yasujirō Tsutsumi. Most observers had expected the designated successor to be his elder half-brother Seiji Tsutsumi. Seiji instead inherited the Seibu department stores, which he subsequently parlayed into the Credit Saison empire. Perceived rivalry between the two brothers' fiefdoms provided fodder for the popular press.

As chairman, Tsutsumi focused on developing and expanding the vast land holdings inherited from his father. At one point, his companies owned one sixth of all the land in Japan. He also initiated new ventures into the sports market, building a stadium in the greater Tokyo area to house a professional baseball team, the Seibu Lions. He was instrumental in the successful Nagano bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

The January 17, 2005 edition of The Wall Street Journal made an investigation on Tsutsumi and the Seibu Corporation public to American readers. According to the paper, the Seibu corporation's headquarters were raided by police, who allegedly found evidence of several Japanese business law-breaking incidents. The police, for example, claimed that the company declared that their major shareholders accounted only for 64 percent of the company's shareholders, but that, in reality, the major shareholders at Seibu actually owned 88 percent of the company's shares. Such bogus ownership statement is suspected to be illegal falsification. Major shareholders can only get up to 80 percent of a Japanese company's stock to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. That scandal was originally opened in 2002 in Japan, after which Mr. Tsutsumi was ordered by a court out of the company, but he remained in it, although at a much less paid employment.

On March 3, 2005, Tsutsumi was arrested on suspicion of violation of securities trading law. Tsutsumi pleaded guilty, and on October 27, 2005, the Tokyo District Court sentenced him to 30 months in prison, suspended for 4 years, and a fine of 5 million yen. His suspended sentence expired in October 2009 and he remains indirectly a major shareholder in Seibu Holdings.

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