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Former Olympus executives plead guilty in fraud trial

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Former Olympus executives plead guilty in fraud trial
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Three former top bosses of Japanese camera and medical equipment maker Olympus have admitted involvement in one of Japan’s biggest corporate scandals.

The ex-chairman, executive vice president and auditor face up to 10 years in prison for a 1.3 billion euro accounting fraud used to conceal losses from bad investments made by Olympus in the late-1980s.

The company itself could be fined more than 100 million yen (1.3 million euros), according to Japanese media reports

The scandal was exposed last October by the newly appointed chief executive Michael Woodford, who was sacked by the Olympus board after querying dubious deals.

Sony stake

At the same time was reported that Sony is planning to take a 10 percent stake in Olympus.

Sony will set up a joint business with Olympus to develop new medical equipment, and next year will send an executive to join its board of directors according to sources quoted by Reuters.

Sony wants to nurture new businesses, including medical equipment, to increase revenue as it draws back from loss-making televisions.

Persistent weakness in its consumer electronics business prompted Standard & Poor’s to cut Sony’s long-term debt rating one notch on Tuesday to BBB, the second-lowest investment grade. S&P added that it would lower its rating further unless the company improved its financial standing.

The cut will make it more expensive for Sony to borrow money to finance investment and acquisitions.

Olympus, which is looking to retain a high degree of independence, may favour a capital injection from Sony rather than offers of closer business ties from rivals such as medical device maker Terumo and camera maker Fujifilm.