Olympus Executives Manage to Avoid Jail Time After Committing $1.7 Billion Fraud


The Olympus financial scandal — you know, the one that was discovered all the way back in October of 2011 — has been trying to reach a conclusion for some time now. But now that the Japanese justice system has reached a decision, many won’t be happy with the end result. Namely: all of the major players in the $1.7 billion scandal have managed to avoid jail time entirely, at least for now.

In case you’ve forgotten the details, here’s a (very) quick recap: In 2011, CEO Mike Woodford was sacked for not jiving well with Olympus’ management style. Woodford, however, told a different story … one that involved him getting fired after asking questions about $1+ billion in fishy payments.

From that point on, the scandal ensued in earnest, as homes were raided to collect evidence, seven people were arrested in connection with the fraud, and three of those ultimately plead guilty taking “full responsibility.” There was even talk of a potential 5 year prison sentence for former chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa.


It looks like talk will remain talk, however. According to Bloomberg, sentencing was handed down today for the three major players in the scandal, and none of them received anything in way of immediate jail time. The aforementioned Kikukawa received a three-year suspended sentence because he wasn’t the one to make the decision to hide financial losses.

Former VP and Auditing Officer Hisashi Mori and Hideo Yamada, received similarly suspended sentences after pleading their cases in much the same way. “Kikukawa and Yamada succeeded in a negative legacy and weren’t involved in the decision-making process to hide losses,” said Tokyo District Judge Hiroaki Saito. “They were distressed and didn’t benefit personally from hiding losses. Mori followed their orders.”

In the meantime, the two guys who are actually accused of starting the fraud, former company presidents Masatoshi Kishimoto and Toshiro Shimoyama, managed to evade all charges because the statute of limitations has expired — in other words, too much time has passed since the original crime. The company itself will be forced to pay a $7 million fine.

(via Engadget)

Image credit: Photograph by United Nations Development Programme

  • A_Lwin

    Because of criminals like these escaping their just deserved punishments is one of the many reasons why the common people are unhappy around the world.

    Growing up, we were taught that if you committed a crime you would be punished. But as adults….

  • Syuaip

    hey 99%, be the 1%! life is good there..

  • Manny

    The Gilded Age of Robber Barons 2.0 is working quite well for some.

  • Keith Cheeseman

    Yes how did Woodford escape jail?

  • Gord

    He wasn’t involved in the laundering, he became CEO long after the criminal act took place. And he was the one who actually reported it to authorities.

  • Mantis

    It’s sad to see this happen to Olympus.

    I’ve worked with some of their field reps for a for a while and they’re just some of the best guys in the business. Olympus sales guys are photographers first, and really know and understand what they’re representing.

    Sucks to seem them get shafted by greedy criminals at the top.

  • markz

    actually the basic facts was not fraud through theft but fraud through hiding market place losses, specifically using dodgy accounting practices of shifting money around to hide huge financial losses incurred through failed business decisions/changes in the economy . The purpose was to avoid its potentially disastrous effect on finance/loans repayment commitments and possible bankruptcy along with a fall in share prices…. that and apparently some of the bridging finance came from financial … “sketchy” institutes…

  • gochugogi

    Pretty sure most big public companies manipulate their accounting for the most favorable appearance. Nothing here other than they got caught.

  • David Liang

    Unbelievable, how many more cases like this does there have to be before an overhaul of the judicial system? Especially for white collar crime, it seems he who has the best lawyers prevails.

  • Stanco55

    Well, at least they saw the inside of a courtroom- more than we can say for our financial criminals that committed way more damage…

  • Renato Murakami

    Awful. And this is happening in a country that is kinda famous to get people like that in jail… or worse stuff, like commiting suicide after scandals, among other things.
    I just hope that this doesn’t kill the company itself… they have been showing promising products for a while now.

  • Dan Howard

    They can’t be jailed because “too much time has passed since the original crime”….

    wow, time IS and great healer

  • Eugene Chok

    white collar criminal steals billions avoids jail…. this is sadly isn’t news, just life

  • Jun

    This is the cause of Japan is sinking. Probably Korea will be follow and so as China. The corruption is way beyond and untouchable.

  • Lalissa

    Obama has been getting away with laundering money from the camera company he is a CEO for?

  • Smeg

    This is business as usual in Japan. Also, just the tip of the iceberg….