Serious Fraud Office to launch inquiry into Olympus scandal

UK fraud watchdog is latest regulatory body to examine payments in fees on takeover deals

The Serious Fraud Office has become the latest regulator to launch an investigation into Olympus as it emerged that the scandal-hit camera and endoscope maker has vowed to take legal action against any executives involved in the corporate cover up.

The UK fraud watchdog said in a statement yesterday: "We have opened an inquiry into Olympus and are liaising with other organisations and international colleagues following information given to us by the Olympus chief executive."

Michael Woodford, who passed documents to the SFO after he was ousted as Olympus's chief executive last month for raising "serious governance concerns" to the Japanese company's board, called the UK investigation a "very positive development".

Since Mr Woodford was ousted the company has been in turmoil. This month it admitted covering up losses for two decades. A series of regulatory bodies beyond the SFO are scrutinising payments in fees and potentially inflated prices of non-core takeovers totalling over $1.3bn (£823m) relating to four of Olympus' transactions in 2008.

In Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and the Security and Exchange Surveillance Commission are studying the case. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are also investigating.

"You need people who have the legal right to follow the money; that's how you get to the truth," Mr Woodford said. "And we need to uncover the detailed truth."

Questions still remain over the size of the original losses, how they were disguised and where the money ended up. The Briton is preparing to meet a delegation from independent panel set up by Olympus to investigate. He will then fly out for further meetings with authorities in the US.

Yesterday it also emerged that the newly installed president Shuichi Takayama had sent an internal memo to Olympus staff outlining the action awaiting those involved. The memo, seen by Reuters, said: "We will wait for the third-party panel to report, and we are preparing to take firm legal action, including criminal complaints, against any manager it finds responsible."

Olympus has also held meetings with creditors in an attempt to reassure them that the company can meet all of its financial obligations. These institutions are understood to have included Japanese financial giants Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.

Creditors and investors have raised fears after the group saw 80 per cent of its value evaporate since firing Mr Woodford and the subsequent revelations of wrongdoing. The scandal forced Olympus to delay its financial results for the first half, as it waits for the results of the third-party investigation. This could mean the company is forced to delist after 62 years on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It has until 14 December to file the document.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk