Yaseo Hamanaka "Mr. Copper" sentenced to Prison
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS; Former Copper Trader Gets 8 Years in Prison
Published: March 26, 1998
Yasuo Hamanaka, a former Sumitomo Corporation trader who once dominated the global copper market, was sentenced today to eight years in prison for forgery and fraud in amassing $2.6 billion in trading losses.
Mr. Hamanaka, who had been free on bail, pleaded guilty to the charges. His lawyers said they might appeal the sentence.
Sumitomo stunned markets in June 1996 by announcing huge copper-trading losses, which it attributed to unauthorized deals by Mr. Hamanaka.
In sentencing Mr. Hamanaka, Chief Judge Yoshifumi Asayama of Tokyo District Court said the trader's actions caused confusion in global copper markets.
''This was a complex, vicious crime, and he used everything to hide his unauthorized trading,'' the judge said.
Mr. Hamanaka was known as ''Mr. Five Percent'' for his rumored control of that much of the world's copper trade.
During the trial, Mr. Hamanaka, 50, acknowledged he had committed forgery and fraud but called it an effort to recover widespread losses for Sumitomo, not for personal gain.
Prosecutors had recommended that Mr. Hamanaka receive a 10-year sentence, less than the 15-year maximum penalty.
Seeking leniency, defense lawyers had lashed out at lax controls at Sumitomo, arguing that Mr. Hamanaka's superiors must have been aware of his dealings.
Fraud investigators in Britain and the United States are still trying to unravel the deals Mr. Hamanaka spun.