Olympus fires head of South Korean unit over ‘improper conduct’

Kyodo

Olympus Corp. said Wednesday it has fired Executive Officer Bang Il Seok, who also served as head of its South Korean unit, due to “improper conduct as a manager.”

The scandal-hit camera and medical equipment maker removed Bang, 48, from both posts effective June 4 because he was discovered to have forged a document, Olympus officials said.

His dismissal is unrelated to the company’s loss coverup, which came to light when ousted President and CEO Michael C. Woodford last October blew the whistle on an long-running accounting scheme to disguise enormous investment losses, the officials said.

The company is investigating Bang on suspicion of various misconduct, including embezzlement, and is mulling the possibility of legal action against him.

But Olympus declined to elaborate any further on the details of the case, with one official saying only, “We’re currently probing the matter.”

Bang was appointed head of Olympus Korea Co. when the company was set up in October 2000. He also served as Olympus’ executive officer from April last year after excelling in such fields as digital camera sales in South Korea.

Olympus Korea, which also markets medical equipment, posted sales of about ¥12.1 billion in the 2011 business year.