Olympus Admits Hiding Decades of Losses

Accounting shenanigans could doom Japanese firm
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2011 1:31 AM CST
Olympus Admits Hiding Decades of Losses
Olympus Corp. spokesman Akihiro Nambu, center, and other top executives bow after a press conference in Tokyo today.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

Olympus has done an about-face after weeks of denials, and admitted to financial wrongdoing on a scale that could doom the Japanese camera and medical equipment maker. The company has admitted that it used acquisitions to hide over $1 billion in investment losses dating back to the 1990s, the New York Times reports. The company's shares dove 29% after its president came clean at a press conference in Tokyo today, saying that he knew nothing about the shady accounting, and that the firm is considering legal action against the executives involved.

Olympus has now lost more than 60% of its value since it ousted former CEO Michael Woodford last month for investigating the suspicious deals. Woodford —a Briton who was pitted against the company's all-Japanese board—released internal documents to the media after he was fired. "This is very serious. Olympus admitted it has made false entries to cover its losses for 20 years. All people involved in this over 20 years would be responsible," an investment analyst tells Reuters. "There is a serious danger that Olympus shares will be delisted. The future of the company is extremely dark." (More Olympus stories.)

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