Indian police investigate 'suicide' of Olympus executive


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The Independent Online

Indian police were last night investigating whether the apparent suicide of a senior executive of scandal-hit Japanese firm was related to the company’s problems back home.

Reports said the body of Tsutomi Omori was found hanging from a railing in a children’s play area at an upscale apartment complex in the satellite city of Gurgaon south of Delhi. Both Gurgaon, and Mr Omori’s apartment complex, The Icon, are popular with foreign executives.

The 48-year-old was serving managing director of Olympus Medical Systems India and he apparently left at least two suicide notes. In one of them, he wrote: “I am ashamed and sorry for the trouble.”

Last night, an official at the Japanese Embassy, who asked not to be identified, said police were investigating what may have led Mr Omori to take his own life. It is understood that the executive has been living alone in Delhi for the last two years. Asked if there was any evidence to link the death with Olympus’s well-documented problems, he said: “The background is being looked into by the local police so we cannot say.”

Local media reported that a gardener, Ram Kumar, had discovered the body at around 8.30am and then contacted his office. “I went into the children’s park to trim some shrubs when I noticed a body hanging from the boundary wall. I immediately informed the security control room,” Mr Kumar told the Times of India.

Police said that in addition to the note extending an apology, Mr Omori left a message addressed to his father, wife and two children. The embassy official said no further information would be given in regard to the executive’s personal details.

Olympus, maker of cameras and medical equipment, found itself at the centre of a swirling $1.7bn scandal last year after it admitted to having repeatedly concealed huge investment losses. The storm erupted after the company fired its British chief executive, Michael Woodford, in October, after he raised concerns about what to him appeared suspicious book-keeping. This week it was reported that prosecutors are considering indicting the company for falsifying financial records.

According to Reuters, since then the company has admitted it used improper accounting to conceal massive investment losses under a scheme that began in the 1990s. It remains under investigation by law enforcement agencies in Japan, Britain and the United States.

Olympus will be hoping that a 20 April shareholder meeting will mark a turning point in its fortunes. On that day, at least six members of its 11-strong board, including President Shuichi Takayama, are set to resign. It is anticipated that he will be replaced by one of three board members an investigation panel deemed not to have been involved in what transpired.