updated 05:50 am EST, Wed November 16, 2011
Olympus scrambles to restore public trust
The once proud Japanese camera and medical equipment maker Olympus is readying to take legal action against its own executives. Any executive found to have been complicit in its multi-million dollar accounting scandal will be hit with legal action as well as possible criminal complaints, according to Reuters. The company has been reeling since admitting that it used advisory fees to cover up investment losses made in the 1990s to avoid reporting them in its financial results.
Olympus outlined its plans in a memo sent to employees as it struggles to contain the damage to its brand and stock value. The memo, which was issued by Shuichi Takayama, the new Olympus president, also vowed to move quickly to restore trust in the company.
In addition to investigations by Japanese authorities including the police and securities watchdogs, as well as the FBI and the UK Serious Fraud Office, Olympus has appointed a third-party panel to investigate the scandal. The panel is expected to deliver its report in early December.
"We will wait for the third party panel to report, and we are preparing to take firm legal action, including criminal complaints, against any manager it finds responsible," Olympus President Takayama told employees in the memo.
In a worse case scenario for the 92-year old company, it could face delisting from the Tokyo stock exchange.
A trio of executives is facing the greatest scrutiny. They include recently resigned company president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former vice-president Hisashi Mori and internal auditor Hideo Yamada.
In the memo to Olympus employees, the new president also asked staff not to be ‘deluded’ into signing a petition seeking the reinstatement of its sensationally fired former CEO Michael Woodford, who made the details of the financial mismanagement public after uncovering the malpractice.