Olympus Corp. President Shuichi Takayama plans to step down by month’s end to take responsibility for the concealment of massive losses at the major optical and medical equipment maker, company sources said Saturday.
The move was prompted by a report compiled by an in-house investigative panel, which concluded that more than 10 people — including Takayama and other board members — are responsible for the accounting scandal and that Olympus should seek damages of more than ¥90 billion from them, the sources said.
If those blamed in the report fail to comply with the payments, the company will sue them, it said.
Meanwhile, former CEO Michael Woodford, who was fired after he questioned the $1.5 billion in takeover costs, is suing Olympus over his dismissal.
The panel was looking into whether the camera maker’s board members, both current and past, were responsible for the hidden losses. Olympus said Sunday that it had received the report and plans to make it public Tuesday.
Olympus is likely to pick a successor for Takayama from among three board members deemed untainted — Masataka Suzuki, Kazuhiro Watanabe and Shinichi Nishigaki, they said.
The panel of three lawyers concluded that Takayama and four of the other 11 current board members, plus an external member, breached their supervisory duties, the sources said.
In particular, the panel concluded they failed to unearth the unlawful accounting practices despite being briefed on the expensive corporate acquisitions that were used to hide a mountain of losses, the sources added.
The panel proposed that Olympus ask Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, a former chairman, Hisashi Mori, a former executive vice president, and Hideo Yamada, a former auditor, to cough up ¥90 billion in damages and other executives, including Takayama, to pay several billion yen.
Olympus has admitted hiding ¥117.7 billion in investment losses dating back to the 1990s after the implosion of the bubble economy.
The company inflated advisory fees on the 2008 acquisition of Gyrus Group Plc and for three Japanese companies with the intention of increasing goodwill, a separate independent panel probing the fraud said last month. The panel said it found a culture of “yes men” and a board that failed in its duty to stop a “rotten” core of executives from duping auditors, regulators and investors.
Tokyo-based Olympus admitted in November that former Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, Hisashi Mori, who was fired as executive vice president, and Hideo Yamada, a former company auditor, colluded to hide losses on securities investments in the 1990s.
The company has lost about $5 billion of market capitalization since firing Woodford and has been forced to restate more than five years of earnings last month to avoid an automatic delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange after admitting to a 13-year coverup.