Scandaled Olympus sues 19 shamed executives

Japan’s Olympus has announced that it is suing 19 current and former executives, including its current president, for up to almost $50 million.

The outfit has had to cope with one of Japan’s worst accounting scandals and has already rejected the help of the whistle-blowing CEO Michael Woodford, who it fired for failing to understand that it was not the Japanese way to reveal other people cooking the books .

All board members who have been sued will quit in March or April. This means that the company will be continuing with its most senior executive, Shuichi Takayama, and five other directors it is suing for mismanagement. We hope that it is not giving them the keys to the office shredder.

Analyst Nicholas Smith told Reuters that the current board were like condemned men, resigned to their fate. They would not be able to make any strategic decisions and were leaving Olympus more vulnerable to a takeover.

Olympus shares increased by nearly a third on the back of the news. Investors are hoping that  the company’s clean-up efforts would help Olympus avoid a delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Six of Olympus’ 11 directors are being sued including five of its eight internal directors and one of its three external directors.

Also among those being sued by Olympus are former Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former Executive Vice President Hisashi Mori and former internal auditor Hideo Yamada. Former presidents Masatoshi Kishimoto and Toshiro Shimoyama were also named.

An outside investigative panel found that all of them played leading roles in a 13-year scheme to hide losses from Olympus investors. It is a sorry tale.

Olympus wants $47 million in damages, with Kikukawa, Mori and Yamada being targeted for the largest amounts.