Whistleblower leaves Olympus board

Michael WoodfordMichael Woodford, who was fired as chief executive of Japanese camera and medical equipment company Olympus after blowing the whistle on dubious spending, has revealed he is resigning from the board.

Mr Woodford - who had remained a member of the board because dismissal is solely in the hands of shareholders - said the decision was difficult because he still cares about Olympus and hopes it will come clean.
Although it initially denied wrongdoing, Tokyo-based Olympus has acknowledged a 687 million US dollar payment for financial advice and expensive acquisitions to cover up investment losses dating to the 1990s.

"It has been a difficult decision for me to resign from a company that I have devoted my entire life to," said Mr Woodford, 51, a Briton who worked at Olympus for about three decades and became a rare foreigner to head a major Japanese company.

But he said he lost hope that the Olympus board would move toward reform after seeing a November 28 message from Olympus' new president, Shuichi Takayama. He said he now thinks that the Olympus board will not change.

He also said stakeholders should decide who should lead Olympus and called for a shareholders' meeting. He will be working with stakeholders to propose a new board, he said.

Mr Woodford, fired on October 14, has called for the entire board to resign and to bring in outside members to the board for more transparency.

"I am strongly of the view that it's completely inappropriate for the current management team who are tainted by its past mistakes to make choices about the identity of new board members," Mr Woodford said in a statement.

Olympus' bookkeeping is now under investigation in Japan, the US and Great Britain. The fiasco has evolved into one of Japan's biggest corporate scandals. Olympus must submit a proper financial report by December 14, or it risks being delisted by the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

© 2011 Press Association
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