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Former Olympus executives plead guilty

A customer looks at the Olympus booth at a camera shop in Tokyo on November 10.

Story highlights

  • Three former Olympus executives pleaded guilty on Tuesday to filing false financial reports
  • Case in connection with a $1.7bn accounting fraud at the Japanese camera company
  • Ex-president: "As the representative director and president, I bear full responsibility"

Three former Olympus executives pleaded guilty on Tuesday to filing false financial reports in connection with a $1.7bn accounting fraud at the Japanese camera company.

In the first court proceedings arising from the case, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who ran Olympus for a decade as president and later chairman, said he was to blame for the long-running scheme to hide lossmaking investments.

"As the representative director and president, I bear full responsibility," he said.

Two of Mr Kikukawa's top lieutenants, Hisashi Mori and Hideo Yamada, also pleaded guilty.

Olympus has admitted that managers secretly moved more than Y100bn ($1.3bn) of securities-related investment losses off its books beginning in the 1990s, then used acquisitions as cover to square the hidden accounts.

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Including money that outside financiers kept in return for helping arrange the deception, roughly Y135bn was "appropriated to maintain the scheme", a civil investigation commissioned by the company concluded in December.

    Four financial advisers have also been charged with violating securities laws in the affair, and are to be tried separately from the Olympus executives.

    In theory, the seven men could face to up to 10 years in prison, although it is common in Japan for white-collar criminals to avoid jail with suspended sentences or fines.

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