Ousted Briton urged to return to Japan's Olympus
Japan's Olympus must bring its wrongdoing out into the open and ousted CEO Michael Woodford is the only man who can do it, a former director said as he sought to rally support to reinstate the Briton.
The comments from former board director Koji Miyata come as Olympus faces increasing pressure after revealing last week that it covered up investment losses dating back to the 1990s with inflated acquisition fees.
Olympus shares have lost around 80 percent of their value since October 14, when Woodford was ousted. It has been warned of possible delisting by the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and the government has spoken out to limit fall-out on markets.
The Briton said he was dismissed after he alleged overpayments in a series of acquisition deals and called on the then-chairman to resign. Miyata said he has started a campaign to reinstate him.
"The process of becoming clean or drawing the pus (from the wound) completely must be recognised by the world" to restore confidence in the 92-year-old firm, said Miyata, 70, who was on the company board from 1995 to 2006.
"You need Woodford for that," the former head of the company's medical systems business said, in an interview with the Fuji television network on Sunday.
"There is no-one but him who both loves Japan and loves the company while understanding what's bad and weak in Japan," Miyata said as he started collecting signatures from Olympus employees to reinstate Woodford.
The former director separately told Nippon Television: "I want the current management to bring Mr Woodford back to the office."
Olympus has said Woodford was fired because of cultural differences -- despite his 30-year career in the group.
Miyata's call echoes that of major Olympus shareholders such as investment firm Baillie Gifford who have also called for Woodford's reinstatement.
Olympus shares were untraded on Monday and bid only -- meaning a glut of buyers -- at an indicated value of 540 yen compared to Friday's close of 460, amid confidence it will file its results by December 14 to avoid delisting.
The Nikkei on Monday reported that Olympus had decided to correct its earnings reports for the past five years in the wake of the revelations that it has been covering up losses.
Japanese media have reported that Tokyo police and regulatory agencies are investigating, amid questions over the auditing firms that signed off on the company's financial statements.
The camera and medical endoscope maker has yet to reveal its losses, but media reports have said it may have concealed more than 100 billion yen ($129 million).
Woodford has said current managers involved in loss cover-ups should step down.
"Those shameful individuals who brought this company to its knees need to go," he told the TBS network in a recent interview.
© 2011 AFP