Ousted Olympus CEO to meet board in Tokyo

Michael Woodford, who blew lid on irregular financial practices of $1.4bn, flies to Japan in bid to win role back.

Woodford Olympus
Shares in Olympus have fallen by 65 per cent since the financial scandal hit the 92-year-old company [EPA]

Michael Woodford, the sacked chief executive of Olympus, is to attend the Japanese company’s board meeting later this week.

Woodford arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday for the first time since losing his job just over five weeks ago for questioning $1.4bn in takeover costs now at the centre of criminal investigations.

The firm said on Monday that a third-party panel it set up to investigate the matter had, so far, found no evidencethat organised crime syndicates or “yakuza” gangsters were involved in the payments.

The panel’s report is due in early December.

“I was invited to the board meeting on Friday by Olympus and welcome the opportunity of going to Japan,” Woodford told the Reuters news agency, saying he hoped to win his role back.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m coming now, to demonstrate that I’m prepared to come to Japan,” he said.

Woodford said he believed the company’s shares should not be delisted but that it needed new management.

Olympus at first denied any wrongdoing after Woodford blew the whistle on financial malpractices, but later admitted to hiding investment losses from investors for two decades, and to using some of $1.4bn in unusual merger and acquisition payments to help in the cover-up.

Delisting decision

The scandal at the once-proud firm has rekindled concerns about lax corporate governance in Japan and revived worries about links between companies and organised crime.

Prosecutors have already questioned the former vice president Hisashi Mori on a voluntary basis, and are expected to soon question fromer chairman and president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and internal auditor Hideo Yamada.

Olympus’ new president, Shuichi Takayama, has blamed the three for the cover-up, saying he would consider criminal
complaints against them.

The Tokyo exchange has placed Olympus on a watch-list as a possible prelude to delisting.

If the company misses a December 14 deadline for filing its financial statements for the six months to September, it will automatically be delisted.

Delisting Olympus from the Tokyo Stock Exchange would effectively cut it off from equity capital markets, constraining its funding and making it harder for its lenders to keep supporting the firm in its battle to avoid having to sell off its core businesses.

Source: News Agencies