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Olympus ex-CEO-Turned-Whistleblower Writes a Book About the Scandal

It was almost exactly one year ago that Olympus fired then-CEO Michael Woodford and started a chain of events that culminated in one of the largest financial scandals in Japanese history. Woodford received an incredible amount of international attention for his role in the saga, since he was one of the highest ranking executives ever to turn into a whistleblower.

He may have lost his $8-million-a-year job, but he likely won’t ever need another: in addition to settling for a reported $15.5 million over the breakup, Woodford is also cashing in by writing a book that offers his account of what transpired.

Titled, Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower, the 272-page Penguin-published book will be released on November 27th, 2012.

The book’s description reads almost like the synopsis of a Hollywood thriller:

When Michael Woodford was made president of Olympus—the company to which he had dedi­cated thirty years of his career—he became the first Westerner ever to climb the ranks of one of Japan’s corporate giants. Some wondered at the appointment—how could a gaijin who didn’t even speak Japanese understand how to run a Japanese company? But within months Wood­ford had gained the confidence of most of his colleagues and shareholders. Unfortunately, soon after, his dream job turned into a nightmare.

The trouble began when Woodford learned about a series of bizarre mergers and aquisi­tions deals totaling $1.7 billion—a scandal that threatened to bring down the entire company if exposed. He turned to his fellow executives— including the chairman who had promoted him Tsuyoshi Kikukawa—for answers. But instead of being heralded as a hero for trying to save the company, Woodford was met with vague responses and hostility—a clear sign of a cover up. Undeterred, he demanded to be made CEO so he could have more leverage with his board and continue to search for the truth. Then, just weeks after being granted the top title, he was fired in a boardroom coup that shocked Japan and the business world at large. Worried his for­mer bosses might try to silence him, Woodford immediately fled the country in fear of his life and went straight to the press—making him the first CEO of a global multinational to blow the whistle on his own company.

Following his dismissal, Woodford faced months of agonizing pressure that at times threatened his health and his family life. But instead of suc­cumbing he persisted, and eventually the men who had ousted him were held to account. Now, Woodford recounts his almost unbelievable true story—from the e-mail that first alerted him to the scandal, to the terrifying rumors of involve­ment with the Japanese mafia, to the stream of fruitless denials that continued to emanate from Olympus in an effort to cover up the scandal. He also paints a devastating portrait of corporate Japan—an insular, hierarchy-driven culture that prefers maintaining the status quo to exposing ugly truths.

The story may in fact hit the big screen sometime in the near future; Woodford says that he has already been pursued by Hollywood studios for rights to a film based on his book. It seems like the kind of story that Aaron Sorkin would love to turn into a screenplay.

(via Photo Rumors)


Image credit: Olympus XA by dsevilla


 
  • hagavaletudo

    “…paints a devastating portrait of corporate Japan—an insular, hierarchy-driven culture that prefers maintaining the status quo to exposing ugly truths”
    sounds like corporate america: enron, worldcom, lehman bros….