A former director of scandal-hit optical equipment maker Olympus has launched a campaign for reinstatement of its ousted British chief executive, saying Michael Woodford’s return is crucial to the “painful restructuring” needed to save the group.
The call from Koji Miyata, former head of Olympus’ medical systems business who served on the board from 1995 to 2006, adds to the pressure on the 92-year-old company’s management amid a scandal that has shaken faith in Japanese corporate governance.
It came as Tokyo regulators struggled to decide how to handle the scandal and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund disclosed that it had sold its 2 per cent stake in Olympus.
Other large foreign Olympus shareholders have called for a return by Mr Woodford, who was fired after he raised questions about a series of acquisitions in which the company paid $1.4bn to obscure advisers and Cayman-registered funds.
After initial denials, Olympus has admitted that it used the deals to dispose of investment losses it had been hiding since the 1990s.
But the company’s new president, Shuichi Takayama – who previously defended the payments – has continued to insist that Mr Woodford was sacked because he was a “high-handed” manager who did not understand Japanese culture.