Former Olympus president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa may soon spend up to five years of his life in prison for his role in Olympus’ massive financial scandal that rocked corporate Japan back in 2011. Prosecutors allege that Kikukawa orchestrated a coverup of $1.7 billion in company losses, one of the biggest frauds in Japanese history and the country’s equivalent of America’s Enron scandal.
Well, if you thought the drawn-out drama of the notorious Olympus accounting scandal was over — we definitely did — you were wrong. It seems that white collar criminals not included in the original seven people arrested in the case shouldn’t take the yacht out of the marina just yet (or maybe they should), because, as former bank executive Chan Ming Fon learned yesterday, the FBI is still looking for you.
The Olympus scandal that rocked the business world last year was one of the biggest cases of financial fraud ever seen in corporate Japan. The Economist has published an interesting piece on why Japanese capitalism might not learn from the mistake:
At one point Olympus’s shares lost about 80% of their value, yet its institutional shareholders uttered not “one word” of criticism against the company’s board [...] For many, the Olympus scandal highlighted the need for more checks and balances. Mr Woodford (pictured), whose angry memoir is to be published this month, likens Japanese boardrooms to “Alice in Wonderland”. They need more assertive shareholders and regulators, and more independent directors, he reckons.
Keidanren, Japan’s big-business lobby, appears to have drawn the opposite conclusion. Olympus had three external directors, a high number for Japan [...] The problem, in Keidanren’s view, was too much external scrutiny.
After the United States was rocked by its own series of financial scandals in the early 2000s, the government increased regulation by passing the controversial Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002.
After the Olympus scandal, Japan Inc wants less scrutiny [The Economist]
Image credit: Photo illustration based on The Donatello Boardroom by ShellVacationsHospitality and Search. by Jeffrey Beall
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.
IKEA found itself in some hot water today after it came to light that a number of women seen in its catalog photographs had been Photoshopped out of the frame for the Saudi Arabian edition. Swedish newspaper Metro broke the story today with a scathing piece titled, “Women Cannot be Retouched Away,” writing that IKEA’s new catalog reflects the country’s oppression of women by editing out every single human with two X chromosomes.
It looks like the Olympus financial scandal is finally coming to an end. It has been nearly a year since it came to light that there were massive cases of fraud and coverups going on in the upper echelons of Olympus management. What started as a CEO’s firing quickly spiraled into one of the biggest scandals to ever hit corporate Japan — the country’s equivalent of the US’ Enron fiasco.
In the end, a number of the company’s top executives were arrested after submitting their resignations. The trials for those former bigwigs are only now starting to get underway. Three of them, including former chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa (pictured above), pleaded guilty today to charges of falsifying accounts and covering up more than $1 billion in losses. The camera company itself also filed a guilty plea.
Nokia has already confessed and apologized for faking the optical image stabilization sample footage in a new promo video for its Lumia 920 phone. In case you weren’t sure: yes, the sample still photographs in the video were faked as well.
Designer Youssef Sarhan did some investigative work after the story initially broke, and came to the conclusion that the images were almost certainly taken with a camera other than the Lumia 920.
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
Black-suited investigators raided and searched 20 different sites today over Olympus’ ongoing accounting scandal. Among the sites searched were the company’s headquarters, the office buildings of subsidiary companies, and the homes of executives involved in the fraud. The company is also looking to raise cash by issuing $1.3 billion in new shares. Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Samsung, and Hoya have been named as companies who are potentially interested in snapping up a piece of Olympus.
Olympus offices, homes raided in accounting scandal [Reuters]
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