Kishimoto denies role in Olympus coverup

Former president tells third-party panel he can't recall 'tobashi'

Kyodo

Former Olympus Corp. President Masatoshi Kishimoto says he denied any involvement in the company’s coverup of investment losses when he was questioned by an investigative panel looking into the scandal.

Kishimoto, 75, began serving as president of the high-quality camera and endoscope maker in the 1990s when the company is believed to have racked up massive losses through soured investments in financial products.

He became Olympus chairman in June 2001, handing over the presidential post to Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who also became chairman later on.

Kikukawa is one of the three people whom Olympus President Shuichi Takayama has said bear responsibility for the high-profile scandal.

A third-party panel of investigators appointed by the company has interviewed Kishimoto several times on suspicion that he knew of the concealment of losses.

Kishimoto said Olympus recorded losses of around ¥17 billion in its books for the business year that ended in March 2000 on the advice of a publicly certified accountant, not because of the company’s introduction of market-value accounting, and that he provided that explanation to the panel.

“I don’t know,” Kishimoto said of “tobashi,” an accounting practice Olympus appears to have employed to hide its losses since 2000, denying involvement in the scheme.

“I shouldn’t be suspicious of a subordinate, but (I) can’t think of anyone else,” Kishimoto added, referring to Hideo Yamada, a former corporate auditor who has been blamed by Takayama for the coverups.

“My supervision was not good,” he said.