Former Olympus CEO Woodford: 'I'm not a corporate robot'
Koji Miyata, former president of Olympus Medical Systems Corporation, launched the appeal earlier this month, demanding 'resolute action' to prevent the financial crisis overwhelming the historic brand and warning staff: ‘Time is short.’
In a statement posted on the Olympus Grassroots website yesterday Woodford (pictured) is quoted as saying: ‘I was gratified to learn that more than 300 employees, former employees, shareholders, customers and other individuals had registered their support for Koji’s initiative and that hundreds more had engaged in constructive discussion and debate with Koji, through email exchanges, about the issues at hand.’
Woodford told his backers that Olympus ‘faces a threat to its very survival’ as a result of ‘unconscionable actions by some directors, past and present’.
He added: ‘Our first task is to discover exactly what happened… Those who have committed criminal acts must be punished.
'Our company must pay any penalties that it has incurred through lax governance. Then, and only then, can we move on to the task of rebuilding our company and fulfilling our immense potential.’
However, Woodford may not be the best man to take over, according to Financial Times commentator Andrew Hill who wrote that ‘if he were put in charge, those staff who feel threatened by his approach – and let’s face it, it is possible to feel threatened by someone even if you recognise the justice of their cause – could be reluctant to co-operate'.
Hill added: ‘That would slow down necessary reform – precisely the opposite of what now needs to happen.’
Yesterday, three Olympus directors resigned as investigations intensified into one of the biggest scandals in Japanese corporate history which Woodford helped to expose.
He was fired on 14 October after questioning suspicious payments made in relation to acquisition deals.
In an interview with Amateur Photographer (AP) last week, Woodford said he has no other plans other than to return to Olympus and has faith in most of Olympus's 44,000 employees.
'The overwhelming majority of our people are dedicated. I'm not a corporate robot, hence my actions... I'm not blind and will always think dispassionately,' he told AP.
Asked what he would do if he were not reinstated, he said: ‘I haven’t given that any thought really.’
Earlier today Woodford attended a boardroom meeting in Tokyo which he described as ‘frosty’.
In a press conference afterwards he once again insisted he would be willing to return if shareholders decide he is the best man for the job.
‘I’m not begging to come back… I didn’t volunteer for this, I’m not a hero,’ Reuters quoted him as saying.
Picture credit: C Cheesman
READ OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL WOODFORD HERE