Tue, May 29, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Olympus ex-CEO said to seek US$60m in lawsuit


A Japanese flag flutters atop the Bank of Japan building in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Former Olympus Corp chief executive officer Michael Woodford will seek US$60 million in a lawsuit in the UK against the Japanese camera maker over his dismissal, according to a person familiar with the claim.

Woodford, fired after he questioned US$1.7 billion of payments that were later determined to be fraudulent, will sue for damages amounting to 10 years of lost earnings, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as the information is not public. Olympus spokesman Tsuyoshi Oshima confirmed that the hearing was due to start yesterday in the UK.

Olympus, also the world’s largest endoscope maker, is installing new management after the company and six individuals were indicted by prosecutors for falsifying securities reports in March and the Tokyo-based company had to restate earnings. Overseas shareholders including Southeastern Asset Management Inc called for more independent board nominees, saying some have conflicts of interest because of their ties to Olympus creditors.

The Telegraph reported earlier that Woodford was suing Olympus for US$60 million. The hearing was set to start at 12pm and to last one week, according to the person.

Olympus, which admitted a 13-year accounting fraud, has said it attempted to conceal previous losses by inflating fees to advisers on the US$2.1 billion acquisition of London-listed Gyrus Group PLC in 2008 and overpaying for three Japanese companies.

Former Olympus chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former Olympus executive vice president Hisashi Mori and former Olympus auditing officer Hideo Yamada were indicted in March, after being arrested in the previous month on suspicion of violating Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, according to a statement from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s office.

Olympus shares rose 0.6 percent to ¥1,133 as of the close in Tokyo. They have fallen 54 percent since Woodford was fired, slashing ¥366 billion (US$4.6 billion) off the Tokyo-based company’s market capitalization.

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