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Olympus trio escape jail but firm fined £4.6 MEEELION

Execs walk free despite part in massive accounting scandal

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Three former Olympus execs have been found guilty of massive accounting fraud and the camera-maker fined ¥700m (£4.6m), although the disgraced trio escaped prison sentences.

Tokyo District Court on Wednesday sentenced former chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, auditor Hideo Yamada, and ex-VP Hisashi Mori to suspended prison terms after a case which has rocked the Japanese technology industry.

At one point in the long-running saga in 2011, even then-prime minister Yoshihiko Noda intervened to urge Olympus to clarify the financial irregularities first exposed by short-lived British CEO Michael Woodford.

Woodford was sacked in late 2011, just two weeks after being voted in unanimously by the board after raising concerns about the $687m (£450m) paid out in fees following the 2008 purchase of the Gyrus Group, a British medical device manufacturer, for around $2bn (£1.3bn).

Although initially denying any wrongdoing, Olympus later admitted serious accounting fraud.

The three disgraced former execs in court on Wednesday had pleaded guilty to falsifying financial statements from 2006-2010, overstating net assets by up to ¥117.8bn (£770m) in order to cover losses, according to Kyodo.

Since then, Sony has stepped in to the rescue, buying a 10 per cent stake in the company and setting up a new joint venture to develop medical equipment.

Olympus has also been doing its best to overhaul the company, announcing last year some 2,700 job losses and the closure or merger of some of its factories. ®

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