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.
A couple of weeks ago, reports confirmed that Olympus ex-CEO Michael Woodford would be settling with his former employer out of court rather than taking them to task for his unfair dismissal. Woodford was let go after blowing the whistle on Olympus’ financial scandal, but now it seems he will have the last laugh as The New York Times has finally put a figure to the settlement: $15.4 Million.
To make matters worse for the financially unstable Olympus, previous rumors that Panasonic would be investing in the company and becoming its biggest shareholder are being flatly denied by president Fumio Ohtsubo. That doesn’t mean Olympus isn’t still searching for an investor, but Panasonic — who just days ago seemed like Olympus’ knight in shining armor — is definitely out.
(via The New York Times and Reuters)
Image credit: Brand Reflection by J-Rod85
Just yesterday news broke that Michael Woodford — the former Olympus CEO who blew the whistle on the now-infamous scandal and was subsequently fired — would be suing his former employer over unfair dismissal for a whopping $60 million dollars. And today, in an altogether not unexpected turn of events, Olympus is said to be preparing to settle out of court for a smaller (yet still massive) amount of money — “only” $15.5 million.
The settlement is still pending approval from the new board, but all evidence points to a positive outcome for Woodford, who over the last several months has been hailed as everything from whistleblower to “boldest business person of the year.” After this settlement we could probably also add “significantly rich[er]” to that list.
Image credit: Money by 401K
Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford has gotten his wish: the entire Olympus board resigned this week in the aftermath of the company’s epic financial scandal and stock tumble. They did, however, pick a new president and chairman before handing in their letters of resignation. Hiroyuki Sasa from the company’s medical equipment marketing division was picked for president, while banker Yasuyuki Kimoto has been chosen as chairman. The changes are expected to be finalized at an April 20th shareholders meeting. Sasa has promised to both win back public trust and to prevent another scandal from every occurring.
(via New York Times via Engadget)
Image credit: Olympus Film Camera by Matt Cunnelly
An update to the financial scandal over at Olympus, which has quieted down quite a bit in recent days: former Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa has been arrested with six other people (including three former executives) for “suspected violation of Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act”. As you might remember, Kikukawa replaced ex-CEO Michael Woodford after Woodford’s abrupt dismissal and stated that the move was because Woodford — who’s from the UK — didn’t fit into the company’s culture. Less than two weeks later, Kikukawa himself stepped down as the company found itself in an international financial fraud case.
Olympus Ex-Chairman Kikukawa Arrested With Six Others After Payment Fraud [Bloomberg]
Update: Apparently Michael Woodford has being approached by Hollywood to discuss making a movie about his whistle blowing and the ensuing scandal.
It looks like Olympus ex-CEO Michael Woodford will be getting his wish after all as the Olympus scandal continues to unfold. A day after an independent panel issued a report that slammed the company’s top management as being rotten (though at the same time finding no links to organized crime), the entire board of directors has indicated that it will step down. Perhaps confident that the company will soon be back on the right track, investors have pushed the stock price back up to over ¥1,100 — up from its 52 week low of ¥424 back in early November.
Image credit: board room by @MSG
Here are some developments in the ongoing Olympus scandal: investors and a former director are currently calling for fired CEO Michael Woodford to be brought back to clean house and right the ship. At the same time, The New York Times is reporting that Japanese investigators are still trying to understand a $4.9 billion hole in Olympus’ financial records, and believe that over half of that amount were paid to organized crime groups in Japan. More specifically, the company is accused of being linked to Yamaguchi-Gumi, the country’s most infamous yazuka organization.
Olympus admitted today that its top executives used dubious acquisitions to sweep 20 years of massive losses under the carpet. At a press conference in Tokyo, new President Shuichi Takayama revealed that the 2008 acquisitions at the center of the company’s ongoing scandal were used to cover-up failed securities investments dating back to the early 1990s. Michael Woodford, the ex-CEO who brought the acquisitions to light, says that further inquiry is needed and that the company leadership needs to be purged:
This is a very big day. The big questions now are: who helped us – which outside companies? And what monies have they received? [...] The position of the board and non-execs is untenable now.
The news immediately crushed Olympus’ stock, causing it to drop 29% in one day. The company has lost 70% of its market value since the scandal began in mid-October and is now facing major consequences — including the possibility of getting delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Image credit: Chalk Farm Banksy by grahamc99
Jake Adelstein at the Japanese Subculture Research Center has written up an interesting article regarding the ongoing Olympus scandal, focusing on the organized crime allegations that have been brought against the company:
In year 2008, something happened at Olympus that turned the company from an entity focussed on seven major business areas, into a company completely out of focus, blurred by a total of seventeen business areas, to include real estate, investments, consulting, waste disposal, labor dispatch, and running travel agencies. Igari Toshiro, former prosecutor turned anti-yakuza crusader, who was Japan’s greatest expert on white-collar organized crime aka the keizai yakuza (経済ヤクザ）and many veteran organized crime detectives have stated that one of the first signs that a company has been infiltrated by anti-social forces is a sudden and totally new change in company direction–especially into areas like waste disposal, labor dispatch (temporary staffing), and real estate—all areas where anti-social forces have carved out a large niche for themselves.
Just days after being fired, former Chairman Michael Woodford was quoted as saying, “There were $800 million in payments to buy companies making face cream and Tupperware. What the hell were we doing paying $800 million for these companies?”
OLYMPUS: Bringing It Into Focus [Japan Subculture Research Center]
Image credit: OLYMPUS PEN E-P1 by sinkdd
Olympus Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa resigned today under pressure from the company’s ongoing financial scandal. The 70-year-old was a 45-year veteran of the company and was the president in the late 2000s when the dubious payments took place. Former president Michael Woodford — the man whose accusations put Olympus in the spotlight — has stated in interviews that the entire board of directors at the company is “toxic”, “contaminated”, and needs to resign. However, a member of that same board has been named as Kikukawa’s replacement.
(via The Washington Post)