Olympus whistleblower Michael Woodford writes book about fraud scandal

Nov 29 2012, 21:33 IST
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SummaryHe hopes his story can contribute to improving the way Japanese businesses operate.

The British man who exposed a massive fraud at Olympus Corp. today published a book about his experiences and hopes his story can contribute to improving the way Japanese businesses operate.

Michael Woodford was the president and chief executive officer of Olympus Corp.

until he was dismissed in October 2011 after he went public about the camera and medical equipment maker's attempts to hide 117.7 billion yen in investment losses dating back to the 1990s.

Three former executives, including Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, Olympus' former chairman, have since pleaded guilty to submitting false financial reports.

The book, written by Woodford in a thriller-style interspersed with moments of humour, details how exposing the scandal took its toll on himself and his wife, Nuncy, who nearly had a mental breakdown.

It also shows how he was determined to reveal the wrongdoing despite resistance from the then board of directors and attempts to discredit him.

In an interview with Kyodo News in London, Woodford said, "I wanted people to understand the effect it had on me and other people. And it's important that these lessons have value and it wasn't in vain."

Woodford had only been president for four months when he learned via a financial magazine about the elaborate scheme to hide losses from the company's balance sheet.

After inadequate answers to his questions and a complete absence of support from fellow board members, Woodford felt he had no option but to go public about his concerns.

Following the revelation, the book describes Woodford's paranoia about being targeted by the Japanese mafia, although there has never been any evidence to link it to the coverup at Olympus.

Woodford says he has no regrets about exposing the scheme.

The 52-year-old describes Kikukawa, who initially tried to explain away the coverup, as a "weak and cowardly man."

Woodford is particularly scathing about the "shameful" domestic institutional shareholders who he claims failed to speak out against the then board when there was mounting evidence of wrongdoing.

The book tells how Woodford later tried to return as the president of Olympus with an alternative board of directors, but once again came up against the resistance of Olympus' domestic backers.

Woodford's book "Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower" is published by Portfolio Penguin.

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