The ousted chief executive of Olympus Corp said the company's review of a $687 million payment to financial advisers has not gone far enough and said he was fired because he asked questions about the extraordinary fee, according to the Associated Press.
Olympus, a Japanese camera and medical device maker, is embroiled in a scandal over the fee, which was paid for the company's acquisition of Gyrus Group PLC in 2008.
Merger and acquisition advisers typically receive a fee of 1 percent to 2 percent of a deal's value; the Gyrus fee represented more than one-third of the $2.2 billion price tag.
In an interview with the AP published on Saturday, former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford said the company is moving too slowly and accused Olympus of trying to sidestep questions about the fee. Olympus has said outside lawyers and accountants will be part of an independent review of the fee.
Why do you need a committee to say there's $687 million for advice you can't justify? Start with that before you move on, Woodford told the AP.
It's deliberate tactics, just to push it away, get it out of the spotlight.
He added: You need forensic accountants going in quickly, very quickly, he said.
Woodford had commissioned an independent review of the fees by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers before he was ousted, Reuters reported last week.
The review found that Olympus had agreed in 2007 to pay an obscure advisory firm called AXES a 5 percent fee for a deal of up to $2.5 billion. The report did not determine why the fee ended up coming in at a much higher percentage.
The eventual cost of the transaction to Olympus is extremely significant and is as a result of a number of actions taken by management which are questionable and which give cause for concern, the PwC report said.
Olympus has denied any wrong-doing over the fee payment. An Olympus official earlier this month said that the amount paid to the financial advisers, which included cash and options, was less than half the $687 million figure claimed by Woodford.
Woodford told the AP he was dismissed on October 14 after raising questions about irregular payments to advisers. Since then, Olympus shares have lost half of their value.
(Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)