updated 10:50 pm EST, Sun December 4, 2011
Olympus panel clears execs of criminal acts
Olympus won't face as grave a consequence as suspected, an investigative panel slipped out early Monday. The Reuters contact explained that the the independent team found executives had covered up about $1.67 billion, or considerably less than the possible $4.9 billion rumored earlier. Checks had also ruled out a connection to the yakuza.
The panel didn't ask for criminal charges itself, although this wouldn't preclude Olympus management from filing charges itself. It primarily blamed recent executive VP Hisashi Mori and auditor Hideo Yamada for most of the activity. Both of them, along with chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, resigned from the company rather than face former CEO Michael Woodford, who they had fired to try and cover up their activities.
The softened blow, expected to be confirmed on Tuesday, could be vital for Olympus. It has already lost half its stock price and could be delisted from the Tokyo exchange if it's felt the accounting cover up is too severe. A smaller tally and the absence of the organized crime link may be enough to spare Olympus.
It still risks serious trouble if the company doesn't account for 20 years of revisions by a December 14 deadline. Olympus may likewise face a public disgrace and could see its corporate structure shaken up to prevent a repeat of the questionable advisor fees and takeovers that led to the corruption.