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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Olympus whistleblower demands answers at shareholder meeting

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Former Olympus president and chief executive Michael Woodford has demanded answers over his sacking at a shareholder meeting in Tokyo.

Around 1,000 investors approved a new board at the Olympus extraordinary general meeting amid calls from Woodford that it was a “mockery” to claim the group was making a fresh start.
 
Shareholders approved five years’ worth of restated financial accounts and voted in new management nominated by the current, discredited board.
 
Part-way through the meeting, Woodford demanded to know why he was dismissed last October after he queried high advisory fees paid in past acquisitions. He added that the group’s refusal to explain his sacking “will constitute clear grounds for this EGM to be later cancelled in court.”
 
Woodford said the board’s earlier refusal to answer a written question about the reasons for his dismissal meant shareholders could ask the courts to invalidate the meeting.
 
He told reporters: "Today is the day the new Olympus is supposed to start. It’s a mockery. It’s why the world looks on and continues to think this world works in a completely different way, it’s Alice in Wonderland."
 
Woodford, who blew the whistle on a $1.7bn (£1.1bn) accounting scandal, is taking legal action against Olympus for wrongful dismissal and is writing a book called ‘Terminated’ about the affair.
 
Since Woodford’s sacking, Olympus has admitted it used improper accounting to conceal investment losses under a scheme that started back in the 1990s. Seven people have been arrested, including a former chairman, and law enforcement agencies in Japan, the UK and US are currently investigating.
 
At the EGM, shareholders voted in company veteran Hiroyuki Sasa as new president and former SMBC executive Yasu-yuki Kimoto.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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