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Whistleblowing CEO sues Olympus

by on06 January 2012

Zeus gets a writ in the post

The former British CEO of Olympus who was sacked after blowing the whistle on the tech outfit's $1.7 billion accounting fraud has dropped his bid to return to the company, Michael Woodford said that the outfit's scandal-tainted management and big Japanese shareholders were in a cosy relationship and the saga had taken its toll on his family. Instead he is suing them for wrongful dismissal.

Woodford was seen by smaller shareholders as someone who could sort the company out, and above all they trusted him to cut out the corruption in the company. However it turned out that Japanese institutional shareholders including Olympus' main lenders were not that happy with letting him back. Despite my having done the right thing, none of the major Japanese institutional shareholders have offered one word of support to me, Woodford told Reuters.

Woodford was on the job for just two weeks after he found out about a $1.7 billion accounting fraud. Foreign shareholders who want a new slate of directors, including U.S. fund manager Southeastern Asset Management now have no one on their side. Woodford said that he would sue Olympus for unfair dismissal and had instructed his lawyers to begin legal action in Britain.

Olympus was sacked on the grounds that he had failed to understand the company's management style and Japanese culture. This would appear to mean that it thought he should have treated the accounting scandal as if someone farted in a lift and pretend it never happened. Woodford fled to England after his sacking after he started receiving threats after he went public. He said his wife was suffering from trauma and was frightened by what had happened.

More here.

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