Olympus calls emergency shareholders meeting in April

Olympus president Shuichi Takayama and company executives bow their heads
Image caption Olympus management will be expected to answer some tough questions from its shareholders

Olympus shareholders will finally get a chance to grill its management about the accounting scandal that has seen the company's stock price plummet.

The firm has announced that it will hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 20 April.

The camera and medical equipment maker has admitted to hiding losses of $1.7bn (£1bn) for as long as twenty years.

The scandal, which became public in October last year, has caused Olympus' share price to fall by almost 50%.

Michael Woodford, the former chief executive who blew the whistle on the accounting irregularities, confirmed he will attend the meeting.

'Further revelations'

Mr Woodford claimed he was dismissed as the chief executive for raising concerns about the company's accounting practices.

He said he had questioned Olympus' payment of $687m in fees to financial advisers during the acquisition of UK medical equipment company Gyrus.

Though the company initially denied any wrongdoing, it later admitted that it had been hiding losses. The company has since sued 19 executives for the cover-up.

Japanese authorities have also raided Olympus' offices as part of the ongoing investigation into the firm.

Mr Woodford said that the probe may result in more information about how deep-rooted such practices may have been.

"Investigations into the scandal are ongoing on three continents and therefore we are still not in a position to know the full extent of what took place," Mr Woodford was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

"Before April's extraordinary meeting, I believe it is highly likely there will be further revelations and all interested parties should continue to closely scrutinise events."

'Very big farce'

The scandal has already seen Olympus' former chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and three other directors including the firm's former vice president and former auditor resign from the board.

Shareholders are expected to elect a new management team at the meeting, raising speculation that some other board members may also leave before then.

However analysts said that it was still unclear how things will unfold.

"I think the whole thing is under a veil and we don't really know what's going to happen," Yuuki Sakurai of Fukuo Capital Management told the BBC.

"It has become a very big farce."

Mr Woodford had also launched a campaign to take control of the firm. But he gave up on his attempts after he failed to win support from the main shareholders.

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