Former Olympus chief executive bows out, but not without a fight

Former Olympus chief executive and whistleblower Michael Woodford has announced his intentions to drop out of his three month fight with Olympus, but plans to sue them for wrongful dismissal.
Written by Hana Stewart-Smith, Contributor

Former Olympus chief executive Michael Woodford has announced that he is giving up his battle against the Olympus board of directors, and his efforts to reclaim his former position.

But he is not going without a fight, after stating he will "most definitely" sue the firm for wrongful dismissal.

The scandal-ridden company, which hid $1.7 billion in losses since the early '90's, is looking to replace the entire board of directors.

Woodford has been locked in a three-month fight to try and replace the current Olympus board and to be reinstated to his former position, in an attempt to bring the damaged company back from the brink.

However, he released a statement to the Japanese press that he was giving up, "despite my having done the right thing, none of the major Japanese institutional shareholders have offered a word of support to me".

He cited pressure on his family as his major reason for pulling out. "My wife told me, 'please don't do it. Don't make [himself] and [his] family go through any more. It's without purpose'."

Olympus is currently undergoing a high-scale investigation by authorities to get to the bottom of the scandal. Police, prosecutors and government regulators raided the company's offices at the end of December.

The company is still at risk of being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and has been suffering from dropping share values since the scandal was revealed.

Olympus president Shuichi Takayama, along with the current board, has already announced their plans to step down at the end of next month.

Woodford's decision might shake the confidence of foreign shareholders, who want total reformation of the board, as he had previously stated his intentions of fighting for his former title.

Woodford is credited as playing a huge part in the discovery of Olympus's accounting fraud, having raised concerns over unusual financial practices last October that ended in his dismissal.


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