Nomura directors' heads roll

Two managing directors of Nomura Securities resigned yesterday after suspicions last week that they carried out illegal trading and paid the profits to an extortionist.

A Nomura spokesman said that resignations had been accepted from Shimpei Matsuki, the executive responsible for equity business, and Nobutaka Fujikura, in charge of management affairs.

Last Thursday the company announced that two managing directors, whom it did not name, were suspected of illegally funnelling stock trading profits to a company linked to a racketeer.

The top executives of Nomura, the world's biggest securities company, will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss damage limitation measures. Nomura's chairman and president resigned yesterday from posts on the Japan Securities Dealers' Association and the Federation of Economic Organisations. The Federation's chairman, Shoichiro Toyoda, said it was considering expelling Nomura from the organisation.

Hideo Sakamaki, Nomura's chairman, has already hinted that he will resign at the end of this month. "I'm the only one who carries a business card with the title of chief executive officer," he said.

But present scandal is remarkably similar to one which toppled Mr Sakamaki's predecessor six years ago. In 1991, Nomura admitted manipulating stocks, compensating clients for losses, and paying off gangsters.