Olympus: Directors to Quit Over Scandal Probe

Former Olympus chief claims he was fired for questioning the accounting fraud

Former Olympus chief claims he was fired for questioning the accounting fraud

Scandal-hit Olympus, Japanese camera makers, have announced that the entire board of directors will resign by February.

Some members will be subject to internal inquiry over the scandal, the company announced.

Heads will roll

On Wednesday, a third chief executive quit the firm, prompting Chairman Shuichi Takayama to say that he and all other heads would quit as soon as a shareholders meeting can take place. The tentative schedule is for a meeting and mass resignation by late February.

Takayama also announced that an investigation would be launched into the scandal that involved the hiding of £1.1 billion in dubious accounting techniques. The company has been hiding losses, and thereby falsifying its net worth, by funnelling money for over a decade.

The investigation will examine what role 70 top executives had to play in the scandal, and local press has reported that Chairman Takayama himself will be on the probe list.

The move for an internal probe came just a day after an external investigation deemed Olympus executives “rotten to the core,” saying that the company had been covering its losses for 13 years.

Future worries

The Olympus inquiry will be carried out by an impartial, external committee, the firm has said. They have also acknowledged that the resulting discoveries from the probe could lead to lawsuits against those who are deemed responsible for the scandal that could lead to the large firm’s ultimate demise.

The chairman has promised that the entire board will be out of office after it has filed its quarterly results, which are due by 14 December and necessary to keep the firm listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange. After that, there is a chance to put the company back on track, Takayama said.

He also apologised “sincerely” as the remaining chief representative of the company, saying that he took criticism of their corporate governance very seriously.

Michael Woodford, the former Olympus chief executive, resigned last week so that he could pursue a campaign to dethrone all of the firm’s board members.

Woodford has said that he is seeking sharehold support in launching a team that would take over the board’s operations.

He also claims that he was fired from the role of chief executive after questioning the accounting over payments made for various acquisitions. This accounting fraud turned out to be the scandal of the century for the Japanese firm, which has seen its share tumble by more than 50%.

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