Woodford arrives at Olympus HQ for board showdown

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Whistleblower Michael Woodford on Friday arrived at the headquarters of camera-maker Olympus where he was expected to meet fellow board members amid a multi-million dollar accounting scandal.

Woodford, who Thursday met Japanese prosecutors probing the cover up of 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion) of losses over the last two decades, is still a member of the board, despite being ousted as chief executive on October 14.

He told reporters on Thursday the entire board was culpable over the scandal, which has engulfed the company and shone a spotlight on corporate governance in Japan.

"The board is all contaminated. Absolutely. They made all these decisions. All of them have to go," he said. "It's financial misreporting on grand scale. It's false accounting on grand scale."

Woodford, the company's first non-Japanese chief, says he was sacked because he questioned company acquisitions and enormous fees paid to little-known consultants based in the Cayman Islands, and because of his calls on the then chairman to resign.

Olympus initially defended its past deals, only to eventually admit that it funnelled funds through the corporate purchases to cover up losses it made on bad investments during the 1990s.

The board meeting was set to have been a showdown with disgraced former chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and two other key actors in the drama, but late Thursday Olympus announced the three had resigned as directors.

Kikukawa resigned as chairman and president in October while Hisashi Mori was sacked as executive vice president earlier this month and auditor Hideo Yamada "showed his intention to resign", the company said.

The trio had remained as board members but have now left the company.

© 2011 AFP

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