Olympus ex-CEO Woodford: Tokyo police can get to truth

By @ibtimes on

Former Olympus Corp <7733.T> CEO Michael Woodford said on Wednesday that Tokyo police were best able to get to the truth behind one of Japan's biggest accounting scandals, as speculation mounts of possible links to organised crime.

Woodford, whose ouster as Olympus CEO a month ago spurred revelations of accounting tricks at the camera and endoscope maker, also told reporters on arrival at Tokyo's Narita international airport that he believed the company's shares should not be delisted but that it needed new management.

Woodford is returning to Japan for the first time since his sacking on October 14, to meet prosecutors, regulators and police who are together investigating the scandal, in which Olympus has admitted to hiding losses for two decades and to using merger and acquisition payments to help aid the cover-up.

The metropolitan police to me is the one that probably has the capability to investigate this in the right way, he said.

Woodford, a Briton, on Friday will also attend his first board meeting since it convened to oust him. Still a director despite his sacking as CEO, Woodford had refused to return to Japan earlier, saying he was concerned for his safety.

Speculation of organised-crime links have swirled around the Olympus scandal. The firm on Monday said a third-party panel it set up to investigate the matter had, so far, found no evidence that organised crime syndicates or yakuza gangsters were involved in the M&A payments.

The payments included a massive $687 million advisory fee paid mostly to an obscure Cayman Islands firm.

The panel is due to report its findings in early December.

Olympus has lost nearly two-thirds of its market value since Woodford blew the whistle on a series of strange deals.

The 92-year-old company initially denied any wrongdoing but later admitted to hiding investment losses from investors since the 1990s and to using part of $1.3 billion in M&A payments made over the past five years to help in the concealment.

The company, also being probed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations and Britain's Serious Fraud Office, risks being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange over the scandal.

It is not yet clear if the architect of Woodford's ouster, former Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who also remains a director, will also attend the Friday board meeting.

(Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

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