Former execs at Olympus are spared prison

THREE former Olympus executives were handed suspended jail sentences yesterday for their part in a wide-ranging corporate cover-up.

Hisashi Mori, Hideo Yamada, and Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, the Japanese firm’s ex-chairmen, were spared prison after pleading guilty to charges that they covered up billion-dollar losses.

Michael Woodford, Olympus’s British former chief executive, blew the whistle on the scandal in 2011, a move that cost him his job.

Kikukawa and Yamada were handed three-year sentences while Mori was given two and a half years. The trio had pleaded guilty in September after an investigation had uncovered years of hidden losses.

The executives hid $1.7bn (£1.1bn) of losses, dating back to the 1990s. When the cover-up was revealed, Olympus’s share price plummeted by 80 per cent, although the company has since recovered to rise above 2011’s levels.

Suspended sentences are the norm for corporate crime in Japan, and the former executives’ ages were taken into account, as were their guilty pleas. The court also said that, although they bore responsibility, the cover-up had begun before they were in charge.