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SFO charges Olympus over accounting scandal

OLYMPUS and its UK subsidiary will be prosecuted by the UK anti-fraud agency in connection to a $1.7bn (£1.1bn) accounting scandal at the Japanese camera and medical equipment maker.

The Serious Fraud Office confirmed it has charged Olympus and its UK subsidiary Gyrus Group for making “misleading, false or deceptive” statements to an auditor.

The charge comes two months after three former Olympus executives were handed suspended jail sentences for their part in the accounting fraud uncovered in 2011.

Former president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former director and auditor Hideo Yamada and former executive vice-president Hisashi Mori were sentenced after pleading guilty last year to charges of falsifying accounts to hide massive investment losses at the company.

Earlier this year, Olympus was also ordered to pay 700m yen (£4.6m) in fines.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between April 2010 and March 2011 and arose from a global fraud case for which Olympus Corporation was prosecuted in Japan.

Olympus said Wednesday the “potential financial impact” of the SFO’s prosecution on the business is unclear.

“It is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or estimate the level of fines that may be imposed on the company and Gyrus,” Olympus said.

One of the largest ever Japanese corporate scandals was revealed by British ex-chief executive Michael Woodford who turned whistleblower and raised questions about suspicious merger and acquisition.

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