The instigator of the cover up of Olympus’ losses, Toshiro Shimoyama, died aged 89 of pneumonia, just before a suspended sentence was handed down to his successor, Kikukawa. Kikukawa avoided a prison sentence partly in recognition that he inherited, rather than perpetrated, the fraud which was then uncovered by Michael Woodford.
According to Eiji Furuyama, of the Japan Society for Business Ethics Studies, in his paper “For Whom the Whistle Blows: Olympus Financial Scandal” which I heard him present at the Association of Japanese Business Studies, Shimoyama was known as The Emperor, which gives you some clue as to how difficult it would have been to to expose what he did whilst he was still alive.
Furuyama also predicted that Kikukawa would get at least a partially suspended sentence, as he did not personally benefit from the fraud. Furuyama attended one day of the hearing, and described Kikukawa as surprisingly small in terms of presence, and clearly “a nice guy”. Furuyama has also met Woodford, as have I, and similarly concluded that his motives were good, although Woodford had suspected somebody somewhere was benefitting financially.
Furuyama concluded in his paper that the biggest fraud was Olympus’ – as a “socially responsible, incorporated firm” – decision to trade in speculative and fraudulent financial products in the first place.
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