Ex-Olympus chief slams shareholders

City A.M. Reporter
THE WHISTLEBLOWER in Japan’s Olympus scandal, ex-chief executive Michael Woodford, blasted Japanese shareholders yesterday for failing to stand up for him, amid signs that domestic and foreign investors are split over his campaign to be reinstated.

Woodford, an Englishman who was a rare foreign CEO in Japan, went public with his concerns over crooked accounting at Olympus after his dismissal in October, leading to the uncovering of a $1.7bn (£1.1bn) fraud that has left the company badly weakened.

He is now lobbying shareholders of the maker of cameras and medical equipment to support his reinstatement and replace the board with a new team that he is assembling.

“We saw a shameful state of the company’s finances yesterday, but not one Japanese shareholder stood up and said publicly ‘Mr Woodford is right, thank you Mr Woodford’, anything, a total, an utter silence,” Woodford said, a day after Olympus released its restated accounts.

His comeback campaign has highlighted the contrasting opinions of foreign and Japanese shareholders on the future leadership of Olympus, which has been found to have carried on a $1.7bn fraud to hide investment losses for 13 years.

At least three big foreign shareholders have backed Woodford’s bid to return to the company, but not one Japanese shareholder or lender has openly supported him since he blew the whistle.