Watching the corporate goings-on at Olympus unfold before our eyes is akin to watching the dance of the seven veils: it's constantly tantalising and lurid, there's a sharp intake of breath with the removal of the next layer as we can't possibly imagine that there's more to come, but betcha-by-golly there's yet another piece of diaphanous frippery to taunt and confound us. When we do finally uncover it entirely, we'll be far too exhausted from the constant state of enticement that we'll collapse in a heap rather than revel in our accomplishment.
So if sacking the newly-appointed CEO for an alleged clash of management styles when he'd also just happened to uncover finiancial misdealings of epic proportions, denying any wrong-doing, then admitting that things weren't right, seeing Presidents and Vice Presidents resign, unearthing even more alleged financial naughtiness, and watching 70% be lopped off the company's share price weren't quite enough, here's what's happened at Olympus this week.
First, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and Hisashi Mori - who had already resigned their posts as President and Vice-President respectively, but had somehow managed to hold on to their board posts - have now resigned from Olympus entirely. Hideo Yamada, the company's auditor has also stepped down, after the new President Shuichi Takayama laid blame squarely at his - and Kikukawa's and Mori's - feet.
There's been a concerted effort on the part of Olympus employees and share holders to re-appoint Michael Woodford, the guy who orignally pointed the finger at vast financial irregularities at Olympus and was promptly sacked for his efforts, to the role of CEO. I can't see that happening; every board meeting would resemble a wedding breakfast where the bride's parents haven't spoken in twenty seven years, and then the mother was scattering the father's belongings over the front lawn from an upstairs bedroom window and calling him a dirty, cheating scoundrel in front of a crowd of astonished neighbours. (You can choose who's who in this glorious tableau.)
Woodford has spent the past week in Tokyo, where he met with Olympus' board and spoke with Japanese authorities investigating the goings-on. As if hiding huge losses throughout their accounts wasn't enough, there've been rumours of Yakuza involvement amongst all of this, too.
Next week, Woodford will make his way to the United States where he'll meet with the FBI, who, in addition to the Serious Fraud Office in London and the aforementioned Japanese authorities, are trying to unpick this mess.
Olympus must submit financial data to the Tokyo Stock Exchange by 14 December or it runs the risk of being delisted. In fact, even if it does submit its data, being delisted is still a possibility. That's how miserable this situation is.
I think I'll give the final word on this installment to Woodford, though: 'It's like a John Grisham novel this whole affair… and then if you understand all the nuances and tentacles it really is.'