Japanese prosecutors raided the offices of Olympus Corp and the home of a former executive yesterday in a probe into a US$1.7 billion accounting scandal that has threatened the survival of the once-proud camera and medical equipment maker.
Tokyo prosecutors, police and financial regulators have joined forces in a rare joint investigation of the 92-year-old company, which has admitted to hiding huge investment losses via questionable merger and acquisition deals and other accounting tricks stretching back over two decades.
Public broadcaster NHK showed dozens of black-suited investigators marching double-file into an office building that houses three Olympus subsidiaries acquired under one of the loss-making schemes, in what has become one of Japan’s biggest corporate scandals.
Investigations moved into high gear after a panel of experts appointed by Olympus to probe the scandal said early this month that two senior former executives masterminded the scheme with the help of investment bankers. It also found that three former presidents, including Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who resigned in October over the scandal, had known about the cover-up.
Japanese TV also showed investigators raiding Kikukawa’s residence, as well as Olympus headquarters in a high-rise office district on the western edge of central Tokyo.
Olympus acknowledged the raids in a statement.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with investigative authorities in order to bring the facts to light,” the company said.
“We would again like to apologize deeply for causing great trouble and worry for our shareholders, investors and those we do business with,” Olympus said.
Olympus last week filed five years of corrected accounts, plus overdue first-half results, meeting a Tokyo Stock Exchange deadline to avoid a humiliating delisting, but they revealing a much-depleted balance sheet as the company tries to put the scandal behind it.
The company could still face delisting if the exchange deems that the company’s accounting deceit is sufficiently grave.
Former chief executive Michael Woodford, who blew the whistle on the scandal after being fired in October, is campaigning to get his job back, but he faces long odds in his battle with current management, which is expected to get backing from its bankers for a plan to bring in outside investors to bolster the company’s finances.
“I’m tremendously sad that it’s come to this, especially when it could have been avoided, depending on the actions of upper management,” Olympus employee Masaharu Hamada said outside the company’s headquarters as it was being raided.
Hamada has taken legal action against the company in a case unrelated to the accounting scandal, charging that he was subjected to harassment by management after reporting a compliance breach by his supervisor.
A lower Tokyo court has ruled in his favor and the case is now on appeal.
PLANNED OUT: The government is lifting sale and export restrictions on 60% of the 20 million masks made daily, but people can still make purchases using their NHI cards Twenty thousand boxes of 50 masks each would be on sale at FamilyMart convenience stores starting tomorrow, Taiwan FamilyMart Co Ltd (全家便利商店) said yesterday. A box of 50 masks would cost NT$249 for those with FamilyMart memberships and NT$299 for those without, with no limits placed on how many boxes a person can buy, the company said. Convenience store chain operator Hi-Life International Co Ltd (萊爾富) said that it would also start selling masks from tomorrow. It has yet to announce details about prices and quantity. Hypermarket chain operator Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福) said that it would start selling packs of five
BOOSTING BUYING: A source said that the idea of pre-ordering vouchers online is being considered, but the preliminary plan is for people to buy them at post offices A stimulus voucher program to be rolled out next month to boost consumption would be available not only to Taiwanese, but also foreign nationals and Chinese spouses who hold residency permits, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday. The government is fine-tuning the details of the program, which involves issuing vouchers for in-store purchases to revive buying amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During a radio interview on Monday last week, National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said that the plan is to allow anyone, regardless of age or income level, to buy NT$3,000 (US$99.89) worth of vouchers for
Delta Electronics Inc (台達電), the nation’s leading power management solutions provider, has signed an agreement to acquire Canadian software firm Trihedral Engineering Ltd to bolster its smart production efforts, it said on Saturday. Delta said in a statement that it would acquire Trihedral for C$45 million (US$32.68 million) through its 100 percent-owned subsidiary Delta Electronics (Netherlands) BV. Trihedral specializes in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and industrial Internet of Things software, which would strengthen Delta’s hardware offerings in fast-growing areas such as automation, artificial intelligence and data analytics, it said. “The collection, monitoring and analyzing of data are critical to Delta’s two
‘ONE-STOP SHOP’: A Miaoli official said that the factory in the Jhunan section of the Hsinchu Science Park would create more than 1,000 jobs and boost prosperity A new high-end IC packaging and testing plant planned by contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Miaoli County is expected to start operations in the middle of next year, Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said. Hsu wrote on Facebook that TSMC, the world’s largest pure wafer foundry operator, would invest NT$303.2 billion (US$10.1 billion) to build the plant, the largest-ever single investment in Taiwan. However, TSMC declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, while a company board meeting on May 12 approved a spending plan worth NT$168.2 billion as part of its investment plans. Construction of the