He once cruised the nightspots of Tokyo in a Ferrari and enjoyed trips by private jet - now he prefers reading or meditating on a quiet mountainside while awaiting trial.
Takafumi Horie, the former CEO of Internet firm Livedoor Co. who came to symbolise a bare-knuckles capitalism at odds with Japan's cozy corporate mores, will go on trial in Tokyo on Monday on charges of breaking securities laws.
The pudgy 33-year-old Horie was constantly in the media spotlight for his lavish personal spending and aggressive business tactics until a surprise raid on Livedoor in January.
The Livedoor Shock sparked chaos on the Tokyo stock market, sending share prices plunging and overwhelming the exchange's computer system with sell orders.
It also sparked calls for a beefed-up securities watchdog and embarrassed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who had tapped Horie to run as a poster boy for reform in a national election last year. Horie lost despite support from party heavyweights.
A chastened and slimmer Horie was released on bail in April after three months in a cramped detention cell, a far cry from his luxury apartment in central Tokyo's Roppongi Hills complex.
The Hills Tribe, as those who lived in the complex were known, had become synonymous with a new breed of freewheeling executives applauded by admirers for their dynamism and chided by others for their brash break with Japanese corporate traditions.
Once known for his earning money is everything mantra, Horie was quoted as saying: Maybe I was living too fast, after his release. He was later reported to have become an avid reader and made a pilgrimage to the mountainside site of a disastrous 1985 plane crash after being moved by a book about the accident.
Prosecutors believe Horie and four other company executives sought to boost share prices by spreading false information, issuing new shares to acquire firms already under Livedoor's control and then selling them for a profit to pad its books.
Horie will plead not guilty on Monday, his lawyer, Yasuyuki Takai, told TV Asahi in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
He is not accepting the story written by prosecutors, Takai said. It is certain that he will assert his innocence.
Horie faces up to five years in prison and fines of up to 5 million yen if found guilty.
The verdict and sentence are expected some time from February on, domestic media have said. Horie also faces civil suits for damages from former shareholders after Livedoor brought in new management and was forced to delist following his detention.
ON THE EDGE
Nicknamed Horiemon for his resemblance to Doraemon, an endearing chubby cartoon cat, the T-shirt-clad tycoon was once touted as a symbol of a new, more dynamic Japan where hostile corporate takeovers were the norm and wealth was for flaunting.
Japan's media combed through details of his childhood, often offering the public advice on how to rear children like Horie.
A dropout from the elite University of Tokyo, he set up Livedoor's predecessor, Livin' On the Edge, a decade ago with a mere $50,000 in capital and turned it into a sprawling Internet conglomerate with market capital of more than $6 billion.
Horie's attempt to buy a baseball team in 2004 and a rare takeover battle with a giant media group last year won him many admirers among young people impressed by his chutzpah, but also made him enemies in the conservative business establishment.
Horie's trial, at which several of his former colleagues are scheduled to testify, coincides with the end of Koizumi's five-year premiership later this month.
Some Koizumi critics charge that his market-based reforms are creating a sharp gap between haves and have-nots in a land that once prided itself on egalitarianism.
In response, Koizumi's heir apparent, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, has made Second Chance measures for those who fail in business a pillar of his policy pledges.