Music producer Tetsuya Komuro, 49, was arrested last week on suspicion of defrauding an investor of 500 million yen by concluding a contract for the transfer of copyrights he did not own. He is suspected of pretending he owned the copyrights to 806 tunes and concluding a 1 billion yen sales contract with a buyer. Although most of the 806 tunes were written by Komuro, he was not authorized to transfer the copyrights under a contract with a music publishing firm.
During his heyday in the 1990s, Komuro was the 4th richest person in Japan, earning 10 billion yen from the sales of his music. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a T-shirt worth 990 yen. What happened to all his money?
“He must have at least 1.5 billion yen in debts,” said a showbiz insider. “He borrowed money from underground lenders at 60% interest rate.”
Komuro's extravagant spending habits are said to have started just after he became a star. A friend close to him in Los Angeles said, “He used to travel in first class all the time. He would buy all the seats around him so he could have privacy. He often said, 'No problem, no problem. It's just 20 million yen.'”
Another friend said, “One time when he invited me to his house in LA, he opened a suitcase full of money and distributed it to guests and staff. He handed over the money to us, saying, 'You can use as much as you want. But please get receipts.' It was weird. Some people got 10 million yen that day. One person got enough to buy a Ferrari.”
Komuro started to run into trouble in 1998 when he launched an agency in Hong Kong to try and spread his music in Asia.
“We advised him against it when he suggested a new business in China because there is no intellectual property protection there," said one of Komuro's business partners. "The business environment in China is totally different from Japan. But he didn't listen to us and launched his venture in China.”
Komuro soon invested a large part of his fortune in the business in China but right away lost the majority of his investment. The friend says, “He set up an entertainment training school in Shanghai. But it was soon taken over by the local mafia. Although Komuro didn't admit it, I guess he let his Chinese business partners handle all the arrangements.”
Komuro's music agency in Hong Kong was listed on the stock market. But its stock price plummeted to almost half of its original price. A source close to Komuro says he incurred 7 billion yen debts as a result.
The failure of his business in China was just the beginning of his increasing debts. In 2001, he divorced his first wife Asami, who was a member of the singing group “dos,” after just 10 months of marriage. Komuro had to pay 700 million yen in palimony. In 2002, Komuro married his current wife Keiko, who is a vocalist of his own music group “globe.”
However, his debts still piled up. Even worse, music label Avex has decided to suspend sales of two CDs of ''globe,'' scheduled for release by the year's end. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)© Japan Today