Shares of Japanese camera maker Olympus continue to plunge as more details emerge of a financial scandal dating back 20 years. The stock fell by nearly half in just two days this week.
It has now been revealed that Olympus lost huge amounts through investments over a two decade period. One report from the Nikkei news agency said it involves more than 700 million euros worth.
It then covered up those losses by appearing to pay extremely high advisory fees when it took over other companies.
The revelation comes following a public campaign by Michael Woodford, who was fired as chief executive of Olympus after just weeks in the job when he questioned the advisory fees. Woodford is now helping Japanese and international investigators.
Top bosses of Olympus have resigned and could face criminal changes and lengthy jail terms.
Company President Shuichi Takayama on Tuesday blamed Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who quit as president and chairman on 26 October, Vice-President Hisashi Mori and internal auditor Hideo Yamada for the cover-up that used funds related to M&A deals, saying he would consider criminal complaints against them.
The scandal threatens to undermine trust in Japanese firms. It has raised questions about the country’s corporate governance and revived memories of the dark days after Japan’s bubble of soaring share and land prices burst in 1990, leaving many top firms with losses on fancy financial deals and looking for ways to hide them.