Olympus panel 'to blame presidents over scam'

6th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A committee probing a massive cover up of losses at Japan's Olympus is to unveil its report Tuesday, and is expected to blame two former company presidents for approving the scheme, reports said.

The Nikkei business daily said the committee -- comprising lawyers and an accountant chosen by Olympus -- will name Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and his predecessor Masatoshi Kishimoto as having backed a plan to hide up to 130 billion yen ($1.67 billion) in losses on speculative investments.

Kikukawa quit the company last month.

However, the committee will say there is no evidence that executives pocketed any illicit funds or shifted money to Japan's notorious Yakuza organised crime syndicates, Jiji press reported late Monday.

Several earlier reports had alleged a link to Japan's equivalent of the mafia.

The panel was expected to propose measures to boost governance at the camera and medical equipment maker, Dow Jones Newswires said, after the scandal hammered its reputation and sent its shares plunging 80 percent at one point.

Tatsuo Kainaka, a former Supreme Court judge who is chairing the panel, and five other members will release the report at a press briefing at 0600 GMT.

Olympus' board is scheduled to meet Wednesday as the company scrambles to release its delayed quarterly earnings by a December 14 deadline, in order to avoid being delisted by the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The volatile stock was trading about 10.35 percent higher at 1,205 yen on Tuesday, about half its value before whistleblowing former chief executive Michael Woodford went public with allegations in October.

The committee will reportedly say the cover-up scheme started in fiscal 1998 and ran until last year, using a process called "tobashi" -- which translates literally as "blow away" -- in which investment losses are moved off a company's accounts into areas where investors cannot see them.

Several Olympus deals have come under the microscope including the $2 billion purchase of British medical-instruments company Gyrus in 2008, in which Olympus has admitted paying $687 million to a little-known financial adviser based in the Cayman Islands.

© 2011 AFP

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