Olympus considers legal action against ex-CEO Woodford

11/25/2011
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Olympus Board continues to reject reinstating whistle-blowing chief executive… and ponders taking legal action against him

TOKYO (majirox news) — Michael Woodford, former president and CEO of Olympus Corp., attended an almost-two-hour Olympus Board meeting today where he requested an in-depth and honest inquiry into the causes of the company’s losses and a thorough reform of the management.

“There was a tension in the room, but there seemed to be an understanding that it was in no one’s interest to raise the temperature,” Woodford said. “They didn’t shake my hand and I didn’t offer mine. We said good morning and goodbye.”

Olympus, the maker of digital cameras and medical equipment, has admitted that it hid investment losses occurring in the 1990s and subsequently made attempts to conceal them through acquisition payments made between 2006 and 2008. Over the past weeks, The Nikkei newspaper has reported that the amount concealed could have totaled more than 130 billion yen ($1.68 billion) at its height.

Woodford was forced out as president in a meeting of the Board of Directors last month, but since that time the situation has undergone dramatic changes, as has the management of Olympus, and the conflict between Woodford and the current management has drawn considerable attention.

The current Olympus president Shuichi Takayama and the board refused today to reinstate Woodford as president, and, despite the sudden resignation last night of Woodford’s original sponsor-turned-nemesis, Tsuyoshi Kikugawa and two other board members implicated in the scandal, continue to show a united front against Woodford.

They have also clearly stated that they are contemplating legal measures against Woodford for leaking company confidential information to outsiders, according to the Yomiuri newspaper. Takayama continues to assert that Woodford’s dismissal and the current confrontation between him and Olympus are not connected to the cover-up of the financial losses.

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