Olympus sues current and former executives over accounting fraud

Japan’s disgraced Olympus Corp is suing 19 current and former executives, including its current president, for up to almost $50 million in compensation, as it struggles to recover from one of the nation’s worst accounting scandals.

The maker of cameras and medical equipment said on Tuesday all board members subject to the lawsuit would quit in March or April, leaving it in the extraordinary position for now of continuing with several directors it is suing for mismanagement.

The company’s share price, however, surged nearly 30 percent on the news, with investors looking forward to the eventual renewal of the board and to Olympus finally drawing a line under a $1.7 billion accounting fraud.

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Outside Directors May Be Forced on Big Firms in Japan

A Japanese government panel will propose mandatory appointments of outside directors on boards of large firms in the hope of averting the kind of accounting scandal that has engulfed Olympus.

But expectations of meaningful change are not high, and experts say the process in which companies pick outside directors may also need regulatory adjustment.

The British ex-CEO of Olympus, Michael Woodford, emerged from a meeting of directors on Friday convinced its board would eventually quit.

Read the rest of the story: Japan May Force Big Firms To Appoint Outside Directors.

Ex-Olympus CEO Readies for Return to Japan

Michael Woodford, the former chief executive of Olympus admits to being apprehensive as he packs his bags to return to Japan for the first time since blowing the cover off one of the countrys most high-profile corporate scandals.

"It is a little scary to go back but I have started on this journey and plan to finish it," he wrote in an email copied to Reuters on Tuesday.

Fired last month for demanding to know why the board had approved around $1.3 billion worth of obscure fees and deals, the British Olympus veteran of 31-years fled Japan amid fears the money trail might lead to Japans "yakuza" organized crime syndicates.

Read the rest of the story: Ex-Olympus CEO Steels Himself for Return to Japan.

Woodford: In Japan, a foreigner speaks out

As he tucks his tie into his shirt and digs into a plate of Dover sole in a London restaurant, it’s hard to imagine that this down-to-earth 51-year-old Englishman is at war with one of Japan’s biggest corporations.

Woodford is taking on the leaders of Olympus Corp., one of Japan’s most venerable camera makers. He was made CEO of the company in early October. But two weeks later, on October 14, the board sacked him for what chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa said was Woodford’s failure to understand the company’s management style and Japanese culture.

Woodford says he was dismissed for questioning a series of odd-looking deals and hefty payments the company had made over the past half decade, including the biggest mergers and acquisitions fee ever.

Read the rest of the story: Special Report: In Japan, a foreigner speaks out.

Olympus case a black mark for Japan

The recent dismissal of the British chief executive of Olympus has once again drawn the attention of European media to peculiarities in corporate governance in Japan. Accounting practices and lack of transparency have aroused particular concern.

It seems strange that Michael Woodford should have been so summarily dismissed from his post as chief executive to which after many years service in the company he was only appointed some months ago. If, as members of the board are reported to have alleged, his style of management was incompatible with traditional Japanese practices it is odd that he was ever appointed to the top post. His qualities as a manager including his forthright attitude must have been known to the board when he was appointed.

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Olympus Boots Michael Woodford as Chief Exec.


The struggling Japanese camera maker Olympus wanted a change agent. Just not this much change, evidently.

In a public ousting rare in staid corporate Japan, Olympus on Friday demoted its British chief executive, Michael C. Woodford, after only six months in the job, citing a management culture clash with the company’s mainly Japanese executive team.

"We hoped that he could do things that would be difficult for a Japanese executive to do," Olympus’s chairman, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, said a news conference. "But he was unable to understand that we need to reflect a management style we have built up in our 92 years as a company, as well as Japanese culture."

Read the rest of the story: Olympus of Japan Ousts Michael Woodford as Chief.