Olympus, Whistleblower Reach Settlement in Britain

By YURI KAGEYAMA | May 31, 2012

Olympus Corp. has reached a settlement with whistleblower Michael Woodford who had been suing over his dismissal as chief executive of the Japanese camera maker.

Woodford, a Briton, was fired in October after he blew the whistle on dubious accounting at Olympus. The Tokyo-based company has acknowledged it hid 117.7 billion yen ($1.5 billion) in investment losses dating back to the 1990s.

Terms of the deal reached Tuesday were not disclosed as a condition of the settlement, both sides said. The company said Wednesday its board must also sign off on the settlement.

“Hopefully today is a closer. A line has been drawn, and the company can move on and I can,” Woodford told reporters in London.

The case had been set to go before a British employment court Monday, but that got delayed.

Woodford said a board meeting was set for June 8, but Olympus declined to confirm that. Woodford said he could not give details of the agreement.

Woodford, a rare foreigner to lead a major Japanese company and the first at Olympus, has conceded he has given up on any comeback at the camera and medical equipment maker.

Three former Olympus executives, including the company’s ex-chairman, were arrested earlier this year on suspicion of orchestrating the cover-up. The company has carried out its own investigation and is suing some executives for damages.

Woodford has been praised by some Japanese as courageous in bringing dubious old-guard company practices to light. Others have criticized his methods as too confrontational. He has appeared often on Japanese media, and the public response has been overwhelmingly warm.

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