An expert panel appointed by Japan's Olympus Corp. to look into an accounting scandal at the disgraced firm will release its findings on Tuesday, the Kyodo news agency said in a weekend report.
The findings could pave the way for possible criminal complaints against former company executives.
Olympus has admitted to using murky merger-and-acquisition deals to hide losses on investments stretching back two decades. Its current management has blamed former president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former executive vice president Hisashi Mori, and former internal auditor Hideo Yamada for the scheme, and said it was ready to take legal action against those found responsible.
The 92-year-old maker of cameras and endoscopes is battling to remain listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, but if the panel finds involvement of organized crime syndicates -- as has been speculated -- that outcome would be difficult.
Tokyo police, prosecutors, and the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) have launched a rare joint investigation of the scandal, and they are likely to step up their efforts after the panel report is released.
Potential criminal charges could include filing false financial statements, fraud, and aggravated breach of trust -- an offense that can include embezzlement -- although proving breach of trust could be difficult because of the need to show that the offense had been committed for personal gain.
Olympus also needs to meet a Dec. 14 deadline to file its financial results for the six months to September to avoid an automatic delisting by the stock exchange.
Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford, who blew the whistle on accounting tricks at the company after his sacking from the top job in October, has launched a campaign to oust the current board and replace it with his own team of candidates led by him as nominated CEO.
That has set up a battle between Woodford, an Englishman who was a rare foreign CEO in Japan, and current Olympus President Shuichi Takayama, who plans to stay on, at least in the short term, to try to get the company back on track.
The Olympus affair has fanned doubts about corporate governance generally in Japan, and it has revived concerns about ties between yakuza gangsters and companies.
Attention will also be focused on what the panel, led by a Supreme Court judge, has to say about the role of outsiders in the scandal, including Akio Nakagawa, a banker with lengthy ties to Olympus and whose firm Axes received a mammoth advisory fee in the purchase of UK medical-equipment maker Gyrus in 2008.
(Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)