Olympus ex-boss takes case to SFO in London

Ousted Olympus chief Woodford: Ready to revive company

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Sacked Olympus chief executive Michael Woodford says he has contacted the UK's Serious Fraud Office about the Japanese firm's accounting practices.

Mr Woodford, who was dismissed last week, told the BBC that he believed the camera-maker had paid out excessive sums in relation to takeover deals.

He says he was fired for raising the issue, but Olympus says his different management style was to blame.

The SFO confirmed that Mr Woodford had contacted it.

Olympus said it would "consider" taking legal action against Mr Woodford for disclosing confidential information.

Mr Woodford said he had commissioned auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers to look into an alleged $687m (£437m) payment by Olympus to a Cayman Island company.

He told the BBC that he was ousted after he distributed a copy of the PwC report on Wednesday night.

"I sent a letter to every board member," he said, "with the PwC report I commissioned which confirmed that Olympus had paid $687m to unknown parties in the Cayman Islands."

Since the row emerged, the company's share price has fallen for three days in a row.

Olympus disputes the sum quoted by Mr Woodford, saying it was less than half what he alleges.

'Gratuitous' treatment

Mr Woodford was the first non-Japanese chief executive of Olympus, a role he took over six months ago.

He says he was called into a board meeting on Friday at which the agenda had been changed. The only new item to discuss was his dismissal as chief executive with immediate effect, for which, he said, no reason was given.

After the board voted for his dismissal, he left the meeting and was followed to his office by a colleague.

Start Quote

We would consider legal action as one of the options to take”

End Quote Hisashi Mori Executive vice-president, Olympus

He was asked for the key to his flat, 51% of which he owned, and was told to get the bus to the airport as they had taken away his car.

He told the BBC he felt his treatment at the hands of the board was "rude and gratuitous".

According to Mr Woodford, auditors were unable to establish who owned the company in the Cayman Islands. He said questions still had to be answered: "To whom and for what did we pay this money?"

Olympus described the auditors' report as inaccurate. The firm told the BBC: "The report by PwC includes lots of contents based on supposition and/or speculation."

Hisashi Mori, executive vice-president of Olympus, said: "We would consider legal action [against Mr Woodford] as one of the options to take."

Mr Woodford said that $620m of the alleged payment was paid from Olympus Finance UK to the Cayman Islands.

He said that since the payments were made under UK jurisdiction, it was a matter for the SFO. He told the BBC: "They have all the papers and will consider [the] material they have been given."

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