Japan says Olympus scandal 'highly regrettable'

11th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The scandal surrounding optical equipment maker Olympus was "highly regrettable from the viewpoint of market fairness and transparency", Japan's financial services minister said Friday.

Shozaburo Jimi said in a statement that the Financial Services Agency, a government watchdog, "is determined to move quickly, in close cooperation with relevant bodies including the Tokyo Stock Exchange, to urge the company to take steps to accurately grasp the truth and make timely disclosure".

Jimi, who is a government minister as head of the agency, added that he was "determined to take every measure necessary, if any issues for improvement were to be identified through the untangling of this case."

Olympus on Tuesday revealed that it had covered up investment losses from the 1990s and then tried to conceal them with acquisitions made between 2006 and 2008. The deals had come under scrutiny due to the size of fees involved.

Its stock was placed on the TSE's watchlist Thursday for possible delisting after the company said it would miss a Monday deadline to report its quarterly results.

It will be delisted if it fails to report by December 14, a move that would effectively wipe out the value of its shares and could trigger investor lawsuits, analysts say.

"It is troubling to see investors, both domestic and abroad, question the fairness and transparency of the Japanese markets," said Jimi.

"I would urge all the parties concerned with the markets in Japan to tackle this issue together."

Olympus shares have lost around 80 percent of their value since the scandal broke on October 14 when the company ousted British CEO Michael Woodford, who alleged overpayments in the acquisition deals.

© 2011 AFP

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