Olympus whistleblower wins London lawsuit

UK-Japan News March 2019

Michael Woodford, the former CEO of Olympus who blew the whistle in 2011 on a massive accounting scandal, has won a London court battle over alleged wrongdoing linked to his £64mn pension, according to a 12 March report in The Japan Times (page 30). Olympus UK subsidiary KeyMed sued Woodford and former company director Paul Hillman in 2016, alleging they had infringed their duties as directors and trustees of a defined benefit pension plan and conspired to maximise their pension benefits in an illegal manner.

In his judgement, London High Court Judge Marcus Smith said, “In these circumstances, I find that the defendants acted honestly and did not breach the duties—dishonestly, or at all”.

Woodford joined KeyMed as a 20-year-old salesman in 1981 and eventually became the firm’s first foreign chief executive in 2011. He was fired two weeks into the job after persistently questioning unexplained payments. He then alerted global authorities and the media.