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The United Kingdom's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has initiated proceedings against Olympus and its UK subsidiary Gyrus Group. Former president Michael Woodford had discovered a lot of "strange goings-on at the company" as early as 2008, including some aspects of the Gyrus acquisition, and after being promoted to CEO, he started to seek answers to questions related to a number of other "questionable" transactions, leading to his dismissal on 14 October 2011. After his ouster, Woodford offered to speak to authorities in the UK and Japan, which prompted an investigation that revealed a cover-up of huge losses dating back twenty years, causing three high-ranking Japanese officials of the company to be sentenced to suspended jail terms. Having completed its own investigation, the SFO has now decided to bring a prosecution against Olympus and Gyrus. The charges allege that certain representations made to the auditors of Gyrus in the documents related to the company's financial accounts for the fiscal years 2009 and 2010 were misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, contrary to Section 501 of the UK Companies Act of 2006. Commenting on the news Olympus noted that "the potential financial impact of this prosecution on Olympus Group’s business is unclear."
Olympus Press Release
Regarding Prosecution of Olympus and Olympus’ Subsidiary by the UK Serious Fraud Office
Olympus Corporation (the “Company”) and its subsidiaries have been under investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office (the “SFO”) in connection with its past activities in deferring the posting of losses as referred to in the press release titled “Notice Concerning Past Activities Regarding Deferral in Posting of Losses” on November 8, 2011. The Company has been cooperating fully with the SFO’s investigation. Having completed its investigation, the SFO has decided to bring a prosecution against the Company and Gyrus Group Limited, a UK subsidiary of the Company (“GGL”) on charges of breaching Section 501 of the UK Companies Act of 2006. The Company and GGL received requisitions issued by the SFO on September 3, 2013.
Section 501 of the UK Companies Act 2006 provides the charges against certain person who made misleading or deceptive explanation to the auditors in connection with financial accounting of a UK company. The charges against the Company and GGL allege that certain representations made to the auditors of GGL in the documents related to GGL’s financial accounts for the fiscal years 2009 and 2010 were misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, contrary to Section 501 of the UK Companies Act of 2006.
After a hearing date before the Magistrates’ Court, it is expected that the matter will be transferred to the Crown Court for the future steps of the proceedings.
As it is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or estimate the level of fines that may be imposed on the Company and GGL, the potential financial impact of this prosecution on Olympus Group’s business is unclear. The Company will release further details regarding any potential financial impact without delay as soon as it receives any information in this respect during the course of these proceedings.