Bloomberg News

Ex-Olympus CEO Woodford Settles Firing Lawsuit

May 29, 2012

Former Olympus Corp. Chief Executive Officer and President Michael Woodford said, “There is a new board. I need to move on.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Former Olympus Corp. Chief Executive Officer and President Michael Woodford said, “There is a new board. I need to move on.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Michael Woodford, the former Olympus Corp. (7733) chief executive officer and president who was fired after trying to uncover suspected fraud, settled a London lawsuit against the company.

Woodford sued Olympus at an employment tribunal for discrimination and unfair dismissal under whistle-blowing rules and was said to be seeking $60 million, according to a person familiar with the claim.

“The company needs to move on,” Woodford said outside the hearing room today. “There is a new board. I need to move on.”

The Japanese camera maker had about $4 billion wiped off its market value after dismissing Woodford on Oct. 14 when he questioned inflated fees paid to the company’s advisers. Olympus has since admitted to hiding losses and a 13-year cover-up. It is facing shareholder lawsuits and a criminal investigation in which three of its former executives were arrested and indicted by Japanese prosecutors.

The agreement needs to be approved by the Olympus board next month, Woodford’s lawyer Thomas Linden said.

“We are in a negotiation with Woodford for settlement,” said Osamu Kobayashi, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Olympus, and declined to comment further.

While the terms of Woodford’s agreement weren’t revealed, it may include a 10 million-pound ($15.7 million) payment to Woodford, the Financial Times reported earlier today.

If reports of a 10 million-pound payout are correct, it would represent the largest ever sum recovered in a U.K. whistle-blowing claim, said employment lawyer Jo Keddie, who isn’t involved in the case.

“The adverse attention which this case would have attracted clearly has had an impact on the amount of compensation that may have been paid to him,” Keddie said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kit Chellel in London at cchellel@bloomberg.net; Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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