Olympus has admitted years of accounting irregularities estimated at $1.7 billion. Suggestions were being made implicating links to organised crime within the firm, however these appear to be largely unfounded. A damning report has been published by an independent panel appointed to investigate the scam.
Jul 3, 2013
Three former Olympus officials, including disgraced ex-chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, all received suspended prison sentences today for their role in an accounting fraud that threw the company into turmoil. Bloomberg reports that Kikukawa and auditing officer Hideo Yamada got three-year sentences suspended for five years, and executive vice president Hisashi Mori got two and a half years suspended for three.Read Article >
The relatively light sentences take into account that much of the fraud was set into motion before the executives were involved. “Kikukawa and Yamada succeeded in a negative legacy and weren’t involved in the decision-making process to hide losses,” said a Tokyo district judge. “They were distressed and didn’t benefit personally from hiding losses. Mori followed their orders.”
Jun 8, 2012Read Article >
We heard last week that Olympus was planning to cut 2,500 jobs, but the truth is a little worse — the company has confirmed that it'll lay off around 2,700 people by March 2014. The move represents a reduction in workforce of about 7 percent. Olympus has outlined a 5-year vision for itself, forecasting a ¥7 billion ($88 million) net profit this year and setting the ultimate goal of reaching an 11 percent operating margin by 2017.
May 30, 2012Read Article >
In addition to the job cuts, Asahi Shimbun reports that the company is to sell a 10 percent equity stake for "tens of billions of yen" to either Sony or Panasonic. It's not the first time we've heard of possible partnerships, but Panasonic is a new addition to the list of potential suitors. Although known mainly for its cameras, Olympus is a big name in the field of medical supplies, particularly endoscopes. Nikkei is reporting that, due to internal restructuring and buoyant medical sales, Olympus expects its consolidated operating income to increase 3.7-fold over the next five years. While the accuracy of such a bold prediction will take a long time to validate, its nice to hear the company say something positive for a change.
Apr 5, 2012
Incoming Olympus president Hiroyuki Sasa has expressed a desire to cut back the company's camera line in an attempt to return to profitability. In an interview with the Japan Times, Sasa confirmed interest from several firms in the possibility of a partnership, but said that the company was still "studying various possibilities and scenarios." Sasa indicated that the company's camera portfolio was too expansive, and singled out its compact cameras in particular as an area where savings could be made.Read Article >
This wouldn't come as a surprise to us — while Olympus has been largely instrumental in driving the success of mirrorless cameras, its less expensive point-and-shoot offerings tend to be fairly uninspiring, and it's no secret that that segment of the market as a whole is drying up in the face of smartphone competition. There's probably scope for the company to cut down on its mirrorless camera range as well, with a fairly dizzying assortment of PENs already out there and a whole new product line being kicked off by the OM-D EM-5.
Apr 3, 2012Read Article >
Olympus has had a bad year, to put it bluntly — it was revealed that the company lost over two billion dollars due to bad investments and tried to cover it all up. Despite all the troubles, however, the company might be getting some assistance from some powerful companies. German publication Der Spiegel is reporting that at least three companies are bidding to form partnerships with the strugglng camera-maker (who is also the world's biggest maker of endoscopes). President Hiroyuki Sasa indicated that both Sony and Fujifilm are interested, as well as medical systems company Terumo and a number of other unnamed companies. Olympus is looking to make a decision on a potential partnership by next month, but there's no indications yet as to what these partnerships might entail. While Olympus may not be out of the woods yet, a partnership would certainly help the company have a fighting chance.
Mar 7, 2012
Olympus has been wracked with legal problems since former CEO Michael Woodford blew the whistle about the company's shady accounting back in October of last year. Now, Olympus, three of its former executives, and three others are all being charged with accounting fraud by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office. If convicted, Olympus faces fines of up to ¥700 million (about $8.6 million), while the executives involved each face fines of up to ¥10 million (about $124,000) and up to ten years in prison.Read Article >
The troubles all stem from Olympus's attempt to cover up approximately $1.7 billion in losses by exploiting Japanese accounting loopholes, and the three non-Olympus defendants are suspected of coaching the company in how to do it. The men are Akio Nakagawa, the former managing director of the Tokyo branch of Paine Webber (an American asset management firm); Nobumasa Yokoo, the president of Japanese consulting firm (and search engine nightmare) Global Company; and Taku Haneda, another Global Company employee. The ex-Olympus executives charged are former CEO Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former vice president Hisashi Mori, and former auditor Hideo Yamada. The charges come at the behest of the Japanese Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC), which believes the group conspired to overstate Olympus's book value by more than ¥110 billion in each of its 2007 and 2008 financial reports. The six men were originally arrested back in February, along with a seventh — Global Company employee Hirofumi Ono — who has not been charged.
Feb 16, 2012Read Article >
Following a raid on Olympus's headquarters by Japanese prosecutors, the company's former chairman and six others have been arrested. Tsuyoshi Kikukawa is accused of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act by covering up $1.7 billion in losses, which were exposed in part by the ex-company president and CEO Michael Woodford. Kikukawa was one of the 18 executives sued by Olympus over the scandal last month, along with former company auditor Hideo Yamada and former executive vice president Hisashi Mori, who were also arrested with four other members of staff. Not only do the employees face prosecution, but it looks like Olympus itself may well be subject to further criminal investigations as the full extent of the scandal becomes clear — not exactly what the company needs right now following its pessimistic forecasts.
Jan 10, 2012
In the newest twist in the Olympus saga, the company is now suing its president, Shuichi Takayama, seeking damages for his role in the $1.7 billion dollar cover-up that has rocked the Japanese camera maker. Eighteen other executives, including three ex-directors, were named with Takayama, as part of an accounting fraud that took place over nearly a decade.Read Article >
The firm hid investing losses in a series of supposed merger payouts; former CEO Michael C. Woodford was fired after questioning the practice. He's fought to be reinstated in the role, but is now preparing his own lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. Olympus has lost nearly 60 percent of its value since October, when the scandal first erupted, and the current board of directors is slated to resign. A new board would then be elected in March or April. Despite all the turmoil, the company will likely remain listed on the Japanese stock exchange; however, a flurry of lawsuit is likely to begin.
Dec 21, 2011Read Article >
The raids came after Olympus itself admitted to wrongdoing. An independent report had estimated the covered up losses at $1.7 billion, but Olympus itself said it covered up $1.5 billion in a last-minute filing to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The filing came just in time to keep the stock from being delisted, but that could still happen if the raids turn up further evidence of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Olympus is also being investigated by the FBI in the US and the Serious Fraud Office in the UK.
Dec 6, 2011Read Article >
The report lists 10 primary reasons for the the scandal but blame is directed mainly at the former internal auditor Hideo Yamada and former vice president Hisashi Mori who cooked the books for 13 years in order to boost the outward appearance of Olympus' financials. Two former Olympus presidents also knowingly colluded in the scheme according to the independent investigation. No link was found to organized crime as previously rumored. The report urges legal action against the responsible executives and the replacement of those that knew about the illegal cover-up.
Dec 5, 2011
A source close to the investigation into Olympus' accounting discrepancies has told Reuters that the investment losses hidden by the firm since the 1990s at one point reached $1.7 billion. The firm admitted last month to concealing losses made through bad investments by hugely inflating administration fees paid to advisors during mergers and acquisitons. The investigating panel is due to publish its report into the affair very soon, which is expected to confirm that some of the company's most senior employees were behind the scheme, including its own internal auditor.Read Article >
In slightly better news for the firm, the panel seems set to refute any suggestions that organised crime syndicates were involved in the scheme, telling the Nikkei Business Daily that no such evidence had been uncovered in the investigation. We'll bring you full details of the report as soon as it's published.
Nov 18, 2011
"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.Read Article >
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.
Nov 8, 2011
Olympus confirmed this morning that losses on securities investments accumulated since 1990 were concealed through massive merger payouts, contrary to its earlier statement refuting any allegations of wrongdoing. The original allegations were made by former CEO Michael C. Woodford, who was fired from the company on October 14th following his attempt to force an investigation into a number of suspicious acquisitions. According to an announcement by Olympus the largest of these payouts was roughly $687m, sent to an adviser in the UK following the buyout of Gyrus Group Plc., a medical equipment manufacturer, in 2008.Read Article >