Japan watchdog files criminal complaint against Olympus

Tue Mar 6, 2012 8:11am EST
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By Noriyuki Hirata

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's securities watchdog became on Tuesday the latest authority to file a criminal complaint against Olympus Corp, some former executives and outside advisers over the company's $1.7 billion accounting fraud.

The Securities Exchange and Surveillance Commission (SESC) said it had requested criminal charges be filed by public prosecutors against individuals involved in dubious mergers and acquisitions used to hide losses in one of Japan's biggest corporate scandals.

The complaint against Olympus is for filing false financial statements for the financial years ending March 2007 and March 2008. Last December, the company filed five years worth of corrected earnings statements to account for the scandal.

Former prosecutor, now lawyer, Shin Ushijima said the fact that the SESC had filed the complaint probably meant that prosecutors had already agreed to prosecute.

"Most likely the company will accept the charge, because the company's main purpose is to recover as quick as possible, so they want to avoid any unnecessary conflict," he said.

Kyodo news reported last month that the SESC and Tokyo prosecutors had apparently determined they could make a case against the company.

The SESC named former Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former executive Vice President Hisashi Mori and former auditor Hideo Yamada in the complaint, plus former bankers for the company Akio Nakagawa and Nobumasa Yokoo.

Tokyo prosecutors and the metropolitan police arrested these executives and bankers last month following their own investigations for hiding huge investment losses through complex takeover deals.   Continued...

A staff member is silhouetted on a projector screen displaying a logo of Olympus Corp before a news conference in Tokyo February 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao