Olympus whistle blower Woodford arrives in Japan

23rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Michael Woodford, ousted chief of scandal-hit Olympus, arrived in Japan Wednesday for meetings with investigators over the company's cover-up of massive losses due to bad investments in the 1990s.

"I feel optimistic that I can get reassurances that the issues involved will be investigated right through a conclusion," he told reporters after arriving at Narita airport, east of Tokyo.

"I do believe that Japanese authorities will and are taking it seriously, and that the whole truth will come out and not just part of the truth," he said.

The Briton will meet with prosecutors, police and government regulators Thursday over Olympus' overpayments in a series of acquisition deals that the company used to funnel money to hide investment losses.

Woodford also plans to attend a Olympus board meeting on Friday, of which he is still a member, to discuss the scandal and the governance of the company.

"Olympus' story has many tentacles. It's like an octopus," he said.

"And for Olympus to move forward, all these tentacles should be examined and questioned," Woodford said.

This is his first visit to Japan since he left the country after Olympus on October 14 abruptly stripped its first ever non-Japanese president of his title, just six months after appointing him, and only two weeks after he was also named chief executive.

Olympus said at the time Woodford was ousted because of cultural differences -- despite his 30-year career in the group.

But Woodford has contended that he was sacked because he questioned the company's past acquisitions and enormous fees to little-known consultants based in the Cayman Islands, and urged the then-chairman to resign.

Olympus originally defended its deals, only to eventually admit that the purchases were made to cover up losses it made in bad investments during the 1990s.

Local media have reported that the losses may total more than 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion).

Britain's Serious Fraud Office has also launched an investigation, along with probes by other international agencies amid media speculation that Yakuza crime syndicates may be involved in the scandal.

Before leaving Heathrow airport to come to Japan, Woodford told reporters that he was eager to meet with Japanese authorities and to give them "everything I have, all the papers I have which are in my case."

Olympus' actions have prompted a massive sell-off of its shares, which had lost some 75 percent of their value since Woodford was demoted.

Its shares have been placed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's watchlist for possible delisting.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article