Third-party committee denies Olympus ties to organized crime


Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford

TOKYO (majirox news) — A third-party committee looking into Olympus Corp. declared Nov. 21, that there was no proof Olympus was involved with organized crime.

“The anti-social organizations (gangs) did not flow through Olympus,” said Chairman Tatsuo Kainaka, a lawyer. “Recently, some international media and some domestic media that have cited international media have reported that such previous acquisition funds may have flowed to anti-social forces (organized crime syndicates), or that anti-social forces (organized crime syndicates) might have been involved in such acquisitions. However, no such facts have been uncovered in the course of the committee’s investigation to date.”

He added, the committee is currently focused on investigating previous acquisitions by Olympus, the flow of acquisition funds related matter.

However, ousted Olympus CEO Michael Woodford said it was a whitewash and a thorough investigation should be done. He also raised questions about the independence of the third-party investigation committee. He said it was made up of outside lawyers and certified public accountants selected by Olympus.

Woodford will attend the Olympus Board of Directors Meeting in the morning on Nov. 25. He will also speak at the Economist Symposium on Thursday and at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo on Friday.

Olympus, the maker of digital cameras and medical equipment, admitted that it hid investment losses occurring in the 1990s and subsequently made attempts to conceal them with acquisition payments made between 2006 and 2008. For weeks, Olympus denied the claims made by the 51-year-old Woodford of improper accounting and uncertain deal making.

The Nikkei newspaper said the concealment amount could have totaled more than 130 billion yen ($1.68 billion) at its height.

Woodford was dismissed on Oct. 14 after only two weeks as CEO and was about to call on Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa to step down because of suspect deals. He had claimed that Olympus was making questionable payments during past acquisitions and called authorities from Britain and Japan to investigate these payments. The FBI later joined in the investigation.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office decided on Nov. 18 to investigate former Olympus Vice President Hisashi Mori, 54, former Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, 70, and Hideo Yamada, 66, an auditor. The prosecutors are looking into whether they violated the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law.

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