Olympus gets new board; ex-CEO threatens to have result annulled
Shareholders of Olympus voted in a new board on Friday but the firm’s British ex-CEO, whose dismissal six months ago unveiled the biggest scandal in corporate Japan for decades, threatened to have the result annulled.
At the meeting, which some hoped would draw a line under the scandal, Japanese institutions and Olympus’ lenders, suppliers and customers approved restated financial accounts and voted in new management nominated by the current, discredited board, all 11 of whom stood down.
Michael Woodford was sacked by Olympus in October after he queried staggeringly high advisory fees paid in past acquisitions, triggering a probe that uncovered a $1.7-billion accounting fraud stretching back over more than a decade. Olympus said then it fired Woodford for gross misconduct.
Foreign investors, who own 25%-30% of the camera maker and the world’s biggest manufacturer of endoscopes used for internal medical examinations, had hoped the scandal would shake up a deep-rooted culture of cosy ties between banks and boardrooms.
Woodford, who has said he feared for his life during the early days of the scandal and has since rushed to print a book Terminated about the affair, arrived by taxi ahead of Friday’s meeting in a large Tokyo hotel function room.
“Today is the day the new Olympus is supposed to start. It’s a mockery. It’s why the world looks on and continues to think this world works in a completely different way, it’s Alice in Wonderland,” he said.
The meeting began promptly at 10 am
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