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Britain to Prosecute Japan's Olympus for Fraud

  • VOA News

A Chinese visitor tries an Olympus digital camera during the China Photograph and Electrical Imaging Fair in Beijing, April. 20, 2012.

A Chinese visitor tries an Olympus digital camera during the China Photograph and Electrical Imaging Fair in Beijing, April. 20, 2012.

Japan's troubled technology giant Olympus said British authorities are prosecuting it and one of its subsidiaries for involvement in a massive accounting fraud scheme.

Three former executives of the Japanese camera and medical equipment maker have already been given suspended jail sentences related to efforts to hide $1.7 billion in losses from bad investments.

Olympus said London's Serious Fraud Office is now prosecuting it and the Gyrus Group Limited, a British subsidiary, for providing "misleading, false and deceptive" information to auditors from 2009 to 2010.

The accounting scandal was exposed in late 2011 by then-CEO Michael Woodford. The British businessman was fired after questioning some of the company's investments, including Olympus' acquisition of Gyrus.

The scandal seriously damaged the reputation of the 92-year-old company and sent its stocks plunging. Olympus shares have since recovered, but after news broke of the fresh British charges, its shares ended down nearly 3 percent.

Olympus' statement said it does not know how much of a fine it will face in Britain. The company said it is waiting to officially respond to the charges until after it can thoroughly review them.

The United States Department of Justice is also investigating charges against the company.
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