Olympus to Be Charged in U.K. for Misleading Accountants

Olympus Corp., whose former president revealed a $1.7 billion accounting fraud that lasted 13 years, was charged in the U.K. for allegedly deceiving auditors at a subsidiary.

Olympus’s Gyrus Group Ltd. unit misled auditors between April 2010 and March 2011, the Serious Fraud Office said in a statement today. The first court hearing on the matter will take place Sept. 10, the SFO said. The potential financial impact of the prosecution on Olympus’s business is unclear, the company said in a statement to the Tokyo stock exchange.

Former Olympus President Michael Woodford said in October 2011 that he asked the SFO to investigate a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers about payments made by the Japanese company to advisers in a 2008 deal. Woodford went public with his knowledge of the dealings after the Olympus board fired him. The company was fined 700 million yen ($7 million) in Japan and three executives pleaded guilty to covering up losses at the maker of endoscopes and cameras.

“This won’t influence Olympus’ fundamentals,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, adding that a decline in Olympus’ stock price will be temporary.

Olympus fell as much as 6.3 percent and closed down 2.9 percent to 2,798 yen in Tokyo trading today.

“We just received the notice last night and so are still going through it,” said Michiko Kawasaki, a spokeswoman for Olympus. “We haven’t decided on the specifics on how we’ll handle it.”

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