Olympus says sorry as legal action looms

THE PRESIDENT of Olympus has issued a humbling apology over the corporate governance failings that left it mired in a $1.7bn (£1.08bn) international accounting scandal.

“We deeply regret that we have given a very negative impression to Japan and possibly the world... I apologise sincerely,” said Shuichi Takayama, as the board of the Japanese camera firm indicated it could resign over the fraud.

Senior executive director Makoto Nakatsuka has quit, the third board member to go, while the rest of the directors may follow once the firm submits its second-quarter earnings, which it must do by 14 December to avoid being delisted in Tokyo.

Olympus has also set up a committee to consider launching civil action or criminal complaints against those it holds responsible for hiding investment losses. It comes after the publication of a damning external report which said several former executives spent 13 years running a complex deception.

Takayama, who was appointed after the scandal broke, said the firm was considering former chief executive Michael Woodford’s plan to return as president but an extraordinary meeting of shareholders could not be held until late February.

Woodford, who was sacked after questioning a series of payments, wants to assemble a new board but declined to be drawn on the level of investor support.