Whistleblower Woodford wins Olympus settlement

Tue May 29, 2012 9:17am EDT
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By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Woodford, ousted as head of Japanese camera-to-endoscope maker Olympus (7733.T: Quote) after blowing the whistle on one of Japan's biggest corporate frauds, on Tuesday won a likely multi-million dollar settlement of his claim for unfair dismissal.

After a night of negotiations, Woodford's lawyer Tom Linden told a London employment tribunal judge that final agreement hinged on ratification by the Olympus board at a meeting on June 8.

"So hopefully today is a closure, a line has been drawn, the company can move on and I can," Woodford, a 51 year-old Briton, told reporters outside the courtroom.

"I am not at liberty, under the terms of the agreement, to go into any detail. But I genuinely hope that in the interests of Olympus, they can move forward and also that I can."

Woodford, the first foreign CEO appointed at Olympus, was fired two weeks into the job last October after persistently warning about corruption at the top echelons of the company.

The company's shares have since crashed, its board has resigned and, against the backdrop of a clutch of arrests and an international investigation by U.S., Japanese and British prosecutors, it is struggling to draw a line under the $1.7 billion accounting scandal.

An out-of-court settlement of Woodford's case was widely expected after the tribunal was delayed on Monday for extra discussions among legal teams.

Lawyers say most employers prefer to settle such cases rather than risk further reputational damage and unlimited payouts as a result of open court sessions.   Continued...

Former Olympus President and CEO Michael Woodford walks before he attends Olympus Corp's extraordinary shareholders' meeting in Tokyo April 20, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai