Hirotoshi Honda

Hirotoshi Honda (本田博俊), founder of Mugen Motorsports is the son of Soichiro Honda, the man who founded the Honda Motor Company. Born in April 1942, he was six when his father set up Honda and when Hirotoshi was in his teens, the empire boomed. By the time Hirotoshi graduated from Nihon University in 1965, the Honda name was famous across the world for its motorcycles - and was beginning to build cars.

Mugen Motorsport

After graduating, Hirotoshi tried his hand at building his own racing cars in workshops behind the family home but it was not until 1972, when Honda began to market the Civic, that Hirotoshi decided on his long-term future. Seeing big opportunities in automobile design, he established Mugen with Masao Kimura, an engineer with experience at Honda R&D and in the Honda Racing team.

In 1992 the company had built the prototype Honda NSX and has long-term ambitions to build its own road cars. The plan was to develop technology to be used on Honda road cars and develop racing engines for sale. The first Mugen engines were based on the Civic's 1200cc unit, but as the Honda range of cars grew, so did Mugen. By 1984 Mugen had begun to market body kits as well as engines.

Tax Evasion Case

On July 1, 2003, Japanese prosecutors arrested Hirotoshi Honda over a massive tax evasion case.

The arrest came hours after prosecutors launched a criminal investigation into Mugen, which has business relations with Honda Motor Company, on suspicion of dodging 600 million yen (five million dollars) in corporate taxes. Norio Hirokawa, 60, the company's auditor, was also arrested over his alleged involvement in the tax evasion.

Prosecutors suspect Mugen hid its income by moving funds to a company named MG Estate under machine lease and other fictitious transactions for three years through to December 2000, Kyodo News Agency said.

Hirotoshi Honda is a board member of MG Estate, which has since been renamed GE Seirijigyosha.

Mugen reported sales of about 6.8 billion yen for the financial year to October 2001.

Honda Motor has pulled its capital from Mugen but still teams with the firm to participate in auto races.

On May 25, 2006, Hirotoshi Honda was found innocent of charges of massive tax evasion, but the company was fined with more than two million dollars. Presiding judge Yasuo Shimoyama of the Saitama District Court ordered Mugen to pay 240 million yen (2.13 million dollars) in fines over the evasion. The judge ruled that auditor Norio Hirokawa played the central role in the tax evasion scheme, sentencing him in three years imprisonment.

Prosecutors alleged that Hirotoshi Honda approved the transactions, although he has claimed he was also a victim and only signed the tax documents prepared by his auditor without knowing about the crime. Since his arrest in 2003, Hirotoshi Honda had stepped down as the company president.

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