Olympus ex-CEO lands in Tokyo for showdown

Wed Nov 23, 2011 5:15pm EST
 
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NARITA, Japan (Reuters) - Former Olympus Corp CEO turned whistle-blower Michael Woodford touched down back in Tokyo on Wednesday for a meeting with investigators probing one of Japan's biggest accounting scandals and a showdown with the board that threw him out.

As speculation grew of possible links between shadowy payments by Olympus and organized crime, the 51-year-old Englishman landed with little fanfare at Tokyo's Narita airport, to be met by an assistant and a gaggle of about 30 reporters.

Woodford blew the whistle on accounting tricks at the camera and endoscope maker after his sacking a month ago. Olympus has since admitted to hiding hundreds of millions in losses and to using merger and acquisition payments to aid the cover-up.

He said Tokyo police were best able to get to the truth. Each suspicious M&A payment should be looked at "forensically," he said.

Woodford also said Olympus needed new management but hoped the 92-year-old firm would be allowed to remain a listed company.

"The metropolitan police to me is the one that probably has the capability to investigate this in the right way," a relaxed Woodford told reporters.

He has returned to Japan for the first time since his sacking on October 14. He is due to meet prosecutors, regulators and police investigating the scandal on Thursday.

On Friday, Woodford will also attend his first meeting of the board since it convened to oust him. Still a director of the firm despite his sacking as CEO, Woodford had refused to return to Japan earlier, voicing safety concerns.

"AT RISK"   Continued...