Olympus whistleblower eyes movie deal with le Carré sons

Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:57am EST
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By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Woodford, the former CEO-turned whistleblower of Japan's Olympus, is close to signing a movie deal with the British film production company run by the sons of spy thriller author John le Carré.

Woodford, summarily fired last year after raising the alarm over $1.7 billion of shady Olympus payments, said he had yet to sign the deal with The Ink Factory, noting there was also interest from other parties.

But he told Reuters: "I probably will commit to this because I like the way they do things."

John le Carré is the nom de plume of David Cornwell, the spy-turned-author. Two of his sons, Simon and Los Angeles-based Stephen, founded The Ink Factory in 2010. About half their work is based on le Carré classics.

If they strike a deal with Woodford, additional production and finance partners could be brought on board.

Woodford met the Cornwells through his work with human rights charity Reprieve, which is run by a Cornwell sister-in- law. "She said: 'You must talk to Michael'. So I did," Simon said. "It's an amazing story and he's a fascinating man."

Woodford, who rose through the ranks at Olympus over 30 years to become its first foreign CEO, was fired two weeks into the job in October 2011 after persistently warning about corruption at the top echelons of the camera and medical equipment maker.

With friends warning him that "yakuza" gangsters might be involved, Woodford fled Japan and spent months in England looking over his shoulder. Those links have never been proved.   Continued...

Former CEO at Olympus Corporation Michael Woodford speaks with a Reuters reporter in London November 22, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor