Olympus should sue corrupt executives: in-house probe

8th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

Scandal-hit Olympus' in-house panel has ruled that the firm should sue current and former executives for damages caused by their decision to hide massive investment losses, reports said Sunday.

The combined damage claims could total hundreds of millions of dollars against more than 10 Olympus officers, the Nikkei said.

The cases will focus on three former executives who allegedly played major roles in the scandal, ex-President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former vice president Hisashi Mori and auditor Hideo Yamada, the business daily said.

Current President Shuichi Takayama will step down this month after the panel named him among those responsible for the scandal, Kyodo News and the Mainichi Shimbun said.

Kyodo said the panel recommended Olympus seek damages of more than 90 billion yen ($1.17 billion).

The panel of three lawyers was tasked to investigate the exact responsibility of the Olympus board members in the scandal.

The group was set up after a separate committee of former judges and outside experts, commissioned by the company, condemned Olympus' top management as "rotten".

The Nikkei said a court case against Takayama was a possibility but said his early resignation could damage the company's ongoing efforts to rebuild itself, including a planned capital increase.

Kyodo said Olympus is likely to pick Takayama's successor from among three board members the panel thinks were not responsible for concealing the losses.

Olympus has admitted that a small group of top executives hid at least 134.9 billion yen ($1.75 billion) in losses from bad investments in the 1990s.

The scandal came to light after its first foreign president Michael Woodford exposed the matter last year by talking to the international media and authorities, as Olympus' old guard quickly sacked him from the top post.

Despite months of campaigning to clean up the Olympus board, Woodford had given up his efforts to return to and lead the company due to lack of support from major Japanese institutional shareholders.

© 2012 AFP

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