Olympus races to hit deadline

SHARES in scandal-hit Olympus plunged yesterday on fears it would fail to meet an accounting deadline, which would lead to it de-listing.

The stock swung during the day, plunging 13 per cent before recovering to close up 2.19 per cent at ¥1,025 (£8.42) after the board said it “planned” to submit its second quarter results by 14 December.

Olympus, which has admitted to using accounting tricks to cover up huge losses, will be forced from the Tokyo Stock Exchange if it misses the deadline, which in turn could trigger a firesale of assets.

Yesterday lawyers said the Japanese authorities could take several weeks to make any arrests over the scandal, even though an independent panel appointed to look at a series of deals is due to report its findings in early December. The New Year break, akin to Christmas in the West, is the main Japanese festival.

Sources said the panel is unlikely to recommend criminal complaints against individuals, preferring to leave that to the company, though it would look at whether improper or illegal acts had been committed.

New president Shuichi Takayama has told staff the company would pursue legal action against any current or former executives whom the panel believes to be responsible.

Takayama has pointed the finger at ex- chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former executive vice president Hisashi Mori and former corporate auditor Hideo Yamada. The three men could not be contacted yesterday.

Separately sources said the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission has the option of recommending criminal charges against executives but simply fining the firm, making it easier to remain listed.