Michael Woodford, Olympus Whistleblower
In 2011, Briton Michael C. Woodford, a 30-year veteran of Olympus Corporation, was the first Westerner to be named CEO of the Japan-based maker of cameras and medical equipment. He became a central figure in the Olympus scandal after he questioned sizable fees that Olympus had paid to hide losses from securities investments. At the end of September 2011, Woodford confronted Olympus’ Board of Directors on multiple occasions asking for answers to financial discrepancies and even delivered a commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers’ investigation report.
Woodford was abruptly fired Oct. 14, 2011, by the company’s executive board because of what the board cited as a “management culture clash.” The ousting was not only sudden and out of character for Olympus, but it sparked many questions about the board’s integrity. Just one month later, Olympus officials publicly admitted to the U.S. FBI and UK Serious Fraud Office to having paid fraudulent advisory fees in a decade-long cover up valuing $1.7 billion.
In a Jan. 10, 2012, Wall Street Journal article titled, “Olympus to Retain Top Executives,” the attorneys investigating Olympus are cited as saying that, “…if former president Michael Woodford hadn't raised concerns about the company’s accounting, the loss-hiding may never have been discovered.”
Woodford was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year's Honours list in January 2002, and was recently honored as The Independent’s Businessperson of the Year. Woodford is a graduate of Millbank Business School and currently resides in London, England.
The ACFE was proud to welcome Woodford to the 23rd Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., June 17-22, 2012, as a keynote speaker. At the Conference, the ACFE presented Woodford with the 2012 Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award, an annual award given “for choosing truth over self.”
Inside Olympus: the Fraud, the Whistleblower and the Ongoing Investigation
The Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award
“It’s as if you were walking along the street, and you see someone being murdered. You don’t want to be there, but you have to do the right thing and testify.”
— Michael Woodford,Former Olympus CEO and whistleblower