Olympus whistleblower speaks out on US ‘irregularities’ (update Thursday)

August 1, 2012

On Tuesday, Olympus chairman Yasuyuki Kimoto was quoted as telling Bloomberg news agency that the US Department of Justice (D0J) is looking into ‘irregularities’ in relation to expenses paid by the company’s US subsidiary to doctors in a training program in Brazil.

Olympus is a leading supplier of medical equipment as well as a camera and lens manufacturer.

Olympus Tokyo spokesman Hiroko Kuno told Amateur Photographer: ‘Olympus’ US affiliates conducted an assessment of sales, marketing and training activities in their Latin American medical businesses and voluntarily reported certain information to the DOJ.

‘The companies are co-operating with the DOJ’s investigation.’

Meanwhile, former CEO-turned-whistleblower Michael Woodford has issued a statement in response, he said, to media requests for comment on the matter.

Woodford, who was promoted to Olympus group president in April last year, was fired in October shortly after challenging colleagues over accounting irregularities in his newly appointed position as the company’s CEO.

Commenting on the reports concerning the US subsidiary, Woodford said on Wednesday: ‘In relation to today’s news and the remarks of Olympus’s chairman Kimoto, as this matter may relate to a formal investigation by the US Department of Justice, it would be inappropriate for me to make any detailed comments.’

He added: ‘However, it should be made clear that before becoming Olympus’ group president on 1 April 2011 my previous role was as head of the European business.

‘On my appointment to the Olympus European board in 2004, for the following seven years I had no responsibility for the US company or for the Brazilian subsidiary which, until recently, reported directly to Olympus Tokyo.

‘In the short period I was the group president, I acted correctly at all times.’