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Chronology of events in Olympus loss cover-up case


A court in Tokyo on Wednesday handed suspended sentences to three former senior executives of Japanese camera and medical equipment maker Olympus for their part in a scandal that saw $1.7 billion of losses hidden off the balance sheet.

Here are some key dates in the life of the company and the scandal:

1919: Lawyer/businessman Takeshi Yamashita establishes Takachiho Seisakusho as a microscope maker.

1921: "Olympus" brand is registered, named after Mount Olympus in Greece.

1936: The company starts selling its first camera.

1950: Olympus develops a prototype gastrocamera.

Early 1990s: Olympus faces unrealised losses after the bursting of Japan's "bubble" economy. The loss is made worse by high-risk investments that were originally aimed at erasing the earlier red ink.

1998: Olympus' latent loss balloons to 95 billion yen ($950 million at today's rate).

To hide the loss before the 2001 introduction of the market value accounting method, a small group of executives, working-level officers and outsiders begin making investments to offload the losses from Olympus' books.

2001: Tsuyoshi Kikukawa becomes Olympus president.

2011, April: Michael Woodford becomes president; Kikukawa becomes chairman.

July: Facta magazine exposes the scandal and is brought to Woodford's attention. Japan's mainstream media ignore the report.

October 14: Woodford is demoted after raising concerns about Olympus' past investments at a board meeting. Kikukawa is reinstated as president. The company says Woodford did not fit in the Japanese business culture.

Woodford takes his story to the Financial Times. Olympus shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange begin to plunge.

October 19: Olympus says it stands by its past decisions, and is considering legal action against Woodford.

November 1: Olympus sets up a panel of outside experts to investigate the scandal.

November 8: Olympus admits having hidden losses.

November 10: The Tokyo Stock Exchange puts Olympus on supervision for possible delisting.

November 24: Kikukawa resigns as a board member.

December 1: Woodford resigns as a board member.

December 6: The panel of experts finishes its probe, detailing the firm's loss coverup and suggests reform measures.

December 14: Olympus corrects its past earnings.

December 21: Japanese authorities raid the company.


January 10: Olympus sues current, former executives involved in the coverup.

February 16: Kikukawa and other people involved in the coverup are arrested on charges including filing false financial documents.

February 27: Olympus board member Hiroyuki Sasa is named president.

March 6: Securities and Exchange Commission files a criminal complaint against Olympus.

May 10: Olympus announces 48.99 billion yen ($620 million at the time) in losses in the year to March 2012.

May 29: Olympus and Woodford reach a settlement, reported to be 10 million pounds ($15.6 million at the time).

June 8: Olympus announces 2,700 job cuts.

September 25: Olympus, Kikukawa, former executives plead guilty to the cover-up charges.

September 28: Olympus forms a capital alliance with Sony.

July 3, 2013: Olympus, three former executives found guilty of the cover-up.