updated 05:49 am EDT, Wed July 3, 2013
Inheritance of fraud from previous company heads caused lower sentences
Former bosses at Olympus have avoided going to prison over the $1.7 billion accounting fraud scandal. Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, a previous chairman at the camera company, and auditing officer Hideo Yamada received three year sentences that are suspended for five years, while executive vice president Hisashi Mori was handed sentence for two and a half years, suspended for three.
The sentences were handed down to the company officials for their part in covering up the massive fraud during the 1990s, with the $1.7 billion value being how much in the way of losses dating back to the 1990s was hidden by high-level employees. Former Olympus president Michael Woodford was forced out of his position shortly after he blew the whistle on the affair, which later saw the arrests of Kikukawa, Yamada, and Mori, as well as the mass resignation of the Olympus board.
The light sentences in comparison to the overall value of the crime stem from the fact that it was not entirely their fault, writes Bloomberg. Previous presidents Masatoshi Kiskimoto and Toshiro Shimoyama first started the fraud, which was then passed on to future officials. Tokyo District Judge Hiroaki Saito said "Kikukawa and Yamada succeeded in a negative legacy and weren't involved in the decision-making process to hide losses. They were distressed and didn't benefit personally from hiding losses. Mori followed their orders."
Kishimoto and Shimoyama both avoided prosecution as the statute of limitations has expired. Olympus is still dealing with lawsuits from financial institutions, and has been ordered to pay 700 million ($7 million) in fines by the judge. Last year, the company said it would pay 191.8 million yen in fines to regulators, and commenced legal proceedings against 19 former executives over the cover-up.
Chan Ming Fon, a Taiwanese citizen staying in Singapore, was indicted in January for a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The former Commerzbank AG and Societe General SA banker was granted bail by a federal judge in New York over his part in the affair, and faced up to 20 years of imprisonment