Ex-Nova chief gets prison term

Nozomu Sahashi, founder of bankrupt English language school chain Nova Corp., was sentenced Wednesday to three years and six months in prison for embezzlement.

Presiding Judge Hiroaki Higuchi of the Osaka District Court said there was no room for leniency because Sahashi, 57, diverted money pooled for employee benefits to deal with his company’s crisis.

Sahashi had pleaded innocent.

According to the ruling, Sahashi embezzled 320 million yen from a Nova employee mutual-aid association in July 2007 and used the money in part to refund tuition fees for about students who had terminated contracts.

The company’s board of directors ousted Sahashi as president at an extraordinary meeting in October 2007 over Nova’s deteriorated business performance.