Olympus has vigorously defended its new head of finance, Akihiro Nambu, despite admitting he may be the subject of a UK fraud investigation linked to the £1.1 billion accounting scandal.
However, the Tokyo-based company has attempted to play down press reports that Nambu was ?promoted? to the role, a position that took effect on 1 April.
A spokesperson confirmed to Amateur Photographer (AP) that Nambu was a non-executive director of the British medical equipment firm Gyrus, the acquisition of which lies at the centre of the alleged cover-up.
Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford was fired after questioning boardroom colleagues over the high ($687m) fee paid to financial advisers in relation to the Gyrus takeover in 2008.
Reuters was last week among news organisations reporting that Nambu was promoted ?just months after some of [Olympus’s] largest shareholders called on him to resign over the $1.7 billion accounting scandal?.
Olympus Tokyo has since insisted that Nambu?s new role was not a step up. ?The personnel change regarding Mr Nambu is part of a company-wide personnel realignment,? an Olympus spokesperson told AP.
?Furthermore, in his previous position, he was a division manager of corporate planning and he is still in a division manager-level position, so it is not particularly considered to be a promotion.?
The spokesperson added: ?Regarding [Nambu?s] involvement in the series of scandals, we would like to refrain from commenting because of the matter?s possible connection with ongoing investigations in the UK.?
The UK?s Serious Fraud Office, which is conducting a probe into the cover-up, declined to comment on the matter when approached by AP.
Nambu has, in a previous role, provided comments to the magazine in response to the financial drama that has engulfed the camera giant since Woodford was fired six months ago.
Ten days after Woodford blew the whistle, Nambu hit out at a press report which suggested that accountants KPMG had cancelled its auditing contract with Gyrus over the latter’s alleged relationship with a firm in the Cayman Islands.
Olympus claimed it had appointed new auditors, Ernst & Young, because KPMG?s contract had expired.
Meanwhile, Olympus has today urged shareholders to ignore calls for them to reject the firm?s revised accounts and newly proposed president Hiroyuki Sasa, and nominee chairman Yasuyuki Kimoto.
Shareholders are due to vote on the appointments of Sasa and Kimoto at a meeting in Tokyo next week.
But ISS, a leading shareholder advisory firm, claims Sasa does not have the necessary experience to reform Olympus and that Kimoto?s links with Olympus’s main bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, may present a conflict of interest.
ISS yesterday urged Olympus investors to vote against the accounts, claiming it may affect any future legal action they take against the company.
In response, Olympus Tokyo said in a statement: ?We have carefully examined ISS?s reasons for recommending voting against these proposals, but find the opinions contained in these recommendations show some biases.?