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Police suspect Olympus of yakuza involvement, trouble stems from financial losses in 1990s

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Reuters and The New York Times report that Olympus is suspected of being involved with a well-known underworld organization. The Asahi Shimbun also releases new specifics on the results of a third-party committee tasked with finding out what happened.


The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s organized crime division has joined the investigation into the questionable business dealings at Olympus dating back to the 1990s. While the unit’s participation certainly doesn’t confirm suspicions that Olympus was involved with "antisocial groups," we wouldn't exactly call it good news for the troubled company.

"I’ve heard that one unit from the organized crime division has joined, so they must be collecting information," Reuters quotes an anonymous source close to the case as saying. According to a document obtained by the New York Times report yesterday, Olympus is suspected of being connected to the Yamaguchi-Gumi, Japan’s largest and best known underworld organization.

As we reported earlier this month, Olympus made a series of questionable payments totaling 481 billion yen (about $6.3 billion) relating to various acquisitions, investments and advisory fees. Of this 481 billion yen, only 105 billion had been booked on its financial statements. In addition, the Asahi Shimbun reported today that a third-party committee determined Olympus had attempted to hide losses totaling 130 billion yen resulting from speculative investments in the 1990s. The rabbit hole appears to be growing deeper, and it may be weeks before we know the full extent of the losses.

Shuichi Takayama, the new president of the company, has blamed former president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, ousted Vice-President Hisashi Mori, and auditor Hideo Yamada for the cover-up. The New York Times reported yesterday that Michael C. Woodford, former Olympus chief executive turned whistleblower, will be returning to Tokyo next week to answer questions surrounding the investigation.

Check back with The Verge in the coming weeks for further developments on the story.