Olympus speaks out over Woodford legal threat warning

Olympus’s refusal to tell shareholders why it sacked whistleblower Michael Woodford does not make last week’s crucial shareholders’ meeting null and void, the troubled camera maker claimed today.

woodford
Olympus’s refusal to tell shareholders why it sacked whistleblower Michael Woodford does not make last week’s crucial shareholders’ meeting null and void, the troubled camera maker claimed today.

At an EGM, held last Friday, Olympus shareholders approved the scandal-hit company’s choice of new chairman and president and gave the green light to accounts that were revised in the wake of the £1.1 billion financial cover-up.

But, former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford (pictured) criticised the board for keeping two of its members – Kazuhiro Watanabe and Shinichi Nishigaki – as senior managers.

He called for them to be replaced, claiming that they knew about the improper accounting, but failed to act.

Olympus maintains that the pair were not involved in the accounting scandal.

Woodford said the board's refusal to outline the reason for his dismissal as CEO meant shareholders can ask courts to invalidate the meeting – potentially leaving the firm without a management board.

At the meeting, an Olympus official cited ongoing legal action with Woodford as the reason it would not comment on his dismissal.

Though the firm acknowledges the comments Woodford made at the meeting, Olympus Tokyo spokesperson Ayako Nagami today told Amateur Photographer (AP): ‘In our opinion… the fact that we refrained from answering a question because of the possible impact on an ongoing lawsuit does not immediately invalidate the resolutions passed at the extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.'

During the meeting – held at a Tokyo hotel – new president Hiroyuki Sasa told shareholders that he plans to ‘fix the damaged brand and win back trust as soon as possible’.

Yasuyuki Kimoto was voted in as chairman, despite concerns from foreign investors that his links with Olympus's main bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, represents a potential conflict of interest.

[Picture credit: C Cheesman]

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