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Former Olympus CEO Turns Whistleblower

The fired British CEO of Tokyo-based Olympus Corporation has turned over evidence of potentially corrupt payments to the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office.

Michael Woodford, a thirty-year veteran at the company, served as CEO for just six months before being fired a week ago. He told the Financial Times his downfall reflects ‘a deeper refusal by the Japanese group to accept questioning of payments relating to past deals.’

After his firing, he gave the SFO evidence from an internal investigation. The SFO hasn’t commented on the case.

Olympus makes cameras and precision imaging equipment used in the medical industry.

The company is an ‘issuer’ subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Its American Depositary Receipts trade over the counter in the pink sheets under the symbol OCPNY.PK. Prices of its ADRs dropped more than 40% after the scandal broke earlier this month.

The Financial Times said Woodford launched an independent investigation in July by PwC ‘into extremely generous payments made to advisers when Olympus bought Gyrus, a U.K.-listed medical equipment company, for $2.2 billion in 2008.’

He later told the paper: ‘I went to the SFO and gave them all the correspondence and the PriceWaterhouse report, because if you make payments which are just so huge … there’s no answer, and when you try to seek an answer, that’s when concerns arise of more sinister issues.’

Olympus has threatened legal action against Woodford for disclosing confidential information, the Financial Times said.

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