Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund — the world’s largest pension fund — said Thursday it had sued Toshiba Corp. for losses on its investment stemming from the electronics conglomerate’s $1.3 billion accounting scandal that broke last year. According to a GPIF spokesman cited by the Wall Street Journal, Japan Trustee Services Bank Ltd. — an asset manager that holds Toshiba stock on behalf of GPIF — filed the lawsuit on behalf of the fund in May.
The $1.3 trillion pension fund is now seeking 964 million yen ($9.2 million) in damages from Toshiba.
“We bought the shares seven years ago and that’s how much we’ve calculated our losses on those holdings to be,” Shinichiro Mori, a spokesman for the fund, told Bloomberg, adding that the losses stem from the shares the fund purchased through a secondary offering in 2009.
Toshiba’s accounting scandal came to light last April, when the company revealed that it had understated costs of long-term projects and overstated operating profits by at least $1.3 billion over a period of seven years. Since then, the company’s shares have dropped nearly 40 percent.
GPIF, which is believed to be the first institutional investor in Japan to sue Toshiba over the scandal, increased its exposure to shares in 2014, when it decided to double its allocation of equities to cut dependence on low-yield government bonds — a move that promised greater returns but also increased risk.
“Having such a big presence behind this lawsuit is going to pressure others to follow, and also make company executives more aware of governance at their firms,” Takashi Aoki, a fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management, told Bloomberg. “It’s also going to put off other institutional investors from buying Toshiba shares.”