updated 07:45 am EDT, Tue October 25, 2011
Olympus chairman returns fire at ex-CEO Woodford
The besieged chairman of Olympus has launched into a stinging attack on sacked Olympus CEO Michael Woodford over the company's advisory fee scandal. Tsuyoshi Kikukawa delivered his rebuke via an internal company memo. In the memo, Kikukawa called Woodford's actions "aberrant" and "unforgivable" in response to Woodford's exposure of a series of exorbitant advisory fees that have totaled over $1 billion.
In the memo, Kikukawa stated that Woodford's recent actions were the result of nothing more than a failed power grab. Using Woodford's initials, Kikukawa stated that, "Director MCW was not satisfied unless he could control everything himself."
The memo revealed little in response Woodford's accusations, but was instead aimed at trying to discredit the ousted CEO. Among accusations that Woodford broke company management rules, and even "did not like Japan." He also accuses Woodford of reckless expenditure by travelling around Europe and to his home in the UK by private jet.
Olympus has publicly admitted paying a $687 million fee to two advisory companies for a $2.3 billion acquisition, but Kikukawa did not take the opportunity to address the payments on this occasion. Instead, he promised a follow-up memo, which is said to offer a more detailed explanation.
This could be somewhat awkward, as Olympus has yet to explain why such unusually high fees were paid or why it had not disclosed these payments to shareholders or regulators when they were made. Compounding matters for the company, the FBI is also said to have launched a probe into the fee payments using information revealed by Woodford. [via Financial Times] [Sub. rec.]