Top J-Pop Producer Arrested In Fraud Case

Top-selling Japanese music producer Tetsuya Komuro was arrested on fraud allegations Tuesday, his company said, marking a stunning downfall for a songwriter whose tunes dominated the country’s pop music scene in the 1990s.

Avex Group Holdings provided no details of the case. But media reports said Komuro, who is deeply in debt, allegedly defrauded an investor in 2006 of 500 million yen (about $4.2 million at the time) over sales of copyrights for 806 of his songs.

A tearful Komuro was apprehended by prosecutors in Osaka, and agents also raided his posh Tokyo apartment. Prosecutors arrested two senior officials of an entertainment agency linked to the case, said national broadcaster NHK.

The Osaka public prosecutors office refused to comment.

The arrest was a startling reversal for the 49-year-old producer who sold a reported 170 million compact discs in the 1990s. He was so wealthy at one point that he spent 20 million yen to rent out the entire first-class cabin on a one-way flight from Japan to Los Angeles, the Sankei newspaper reported.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported that Komuro is accused of offering to sell his song copyrights to an investor — who has not been identified — for 1 billion yen (about $8.4 million at the time), though Komuro knew he was not authorized to do so.

The investor paid Komuro 500 million yen as advance payment, but later learned he would get no copyrights, the report said. He demanded a return of his money, but Komuro failed to give it back, Yomiuri reported.

Kyodo News agency said Komuro had already used the 500 million yen to pay off debts, including alimony for his ex-wife.

Komuro started off his music career as a member of popular rock band TM Network in 1984 and produced scores of songs that sold in the millions, including Namie Amuro’s “Can You Celebrate?”

At the pinnacle of his career, Komuro wrote and helped perform the official theme song of the 2000 Group of Eight summit of industrialized nations. The song mixed traditional instruments of Okinawa, the host of the summit, with his signature euro-pop beat.

Komuro’s annual income topped 2 billion yen during the 1990s, according to Fuji TV and the Sankei newspaper. His J-Pop music was also hugely popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In recent years, Komuro has failed to produce big hits, and he accumulated huge debts due to failed businesses and alimony, the Sankei said.

Avex announced Tuesday it would cancel planned CD sales of Komuro’s music group, globe, and suspend downloading of all the group’s songs.