More murk at Olympus


The bigwigs at Olympus were probably hoping that the investigation they commissioned into the case of higher-than-expected payments to merger brokers would uncover a sloppy but somehow explicable chain of miserable accounting practices and they’d be able to restore a bit of stability to the company and reclaim some of the millions it has lost in share prices since Michael Woodford was sacked in early October. But oh no. Instead it would seem that piles and piles of bloodied linen are about to be laundered very publicly.

Not only does Olympus have to contend with dodgy dealings with Cayman Islands-based companies, rumours of Yakuza involvement in the business, a revolving door of presidents and chairmen, and plummeting share prices, but it could well face being delisted from the Japanese stock exchange, too.

It looks as if Olympus might’ve been concealing losses it had accrued on securities investments by covering them with funds from previous acquisitions. And it might’ve been going on for over 20 years.

Vice President Hisashi Mori has been dismissed following these revelations, and President Shuichi Takayama – who only stepped into the post at the end of October after Tsuyoshi Kikukawa stepped down – has been very quick to place the blame on his predecessor, on Mori, and Hideo Yamada, the firm’s auditor. Well, he has to do something; this doesn’t look good at all for Olympus. Its share prices have taken another dive (so they’re down about 70% since Woodford was kicked out) and the speculation about the future of the company is rife. Not good; not good at all.

(There’s more on the BBC and the Financial Times.)