A global CEO who blew the whistle on a massive corporate accounting fraud will be telling his extraordinary story at a public event at Nottingham University Business School next week.
Places are still available to hear Michael Woodford, the former CEO of one of Japan’s biggest companies, Olympus, guest speaker at the bi-annual lecture at the Business School’s International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR) on Tuesday March 12 2013.
The audience will hear how Woodford, as the newly-appointed president and then CEO of the giant digital camera and medical systems company, quickly discovers that nobody is telling him the truth and he faces an accounting fraud on a massive scale, approaching $2 billion. Even the chairman and the Head of Compliance and Governance are suspected of being in on it.
Can of worms?
Woodford was the first foreigner, or ‘gaijin’ to run Olympus after a 30 year career in the company. On October 1 2011, he was made CEO, but only two weeks later on October 14 was dismissed after querying inexplicable payments in excess of $1.5 billion and demanding the resignation of the company’s Chairman and Vice President.
In a plot worthy of a John Grisham novel, the former CEO and early pioneer of corporate social responsibility, will be describing the terrible dilemma he found himself in, which could have put his and his family’s lives at risk. Who could he trust? Certainly not his own board. What lessons can be found in his experience about information and transparency in financial flows? In a story, both hilarious and terrifying, he will lead the audience through the decision he makes which leads to the exposure of the scandal, the crash in the company’s share price, the entire board’s resignation and an urgent need for an armed guard.
A personal CSR mission
In anticipation of his visit to the University, Michael Woodford said: “It is very personal to me that the lessons from those frightening months of 2011 and 2012, are disseminated as widely as possible as I care passionately about the truth and by sharing what happened to me and my family, I hope it will make the business world a little more open and encourage individuals that if they see wrongdoing they should challenge it.”
At the event Mr Woodford will also be asking, is it so far away from what happens elsewhere? In today’s business climate, are the risks of these sorts of frauds more likely? How can regulation work when even the trusted guardians can’t be trusted? And how much of this is going on rightnow?
After his dramatic fraud exposure at Olympus, UK newspapers, The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Sun, all awarded him the 2011 ‘Business Person of the Year’; the first time three national newspapers all chose to honor the same individual. Time magazine recognized him as one of the People who mattered in 2011. Last year Michael was the winner of the ‘Association of Certified Fraud Examiners award’ “For Choosing Truth Over Self” and also received the prestigious Financial Times “Boldness in Business” Award for 2012.
The Michael Woodford event at ICCSR is open to the public and takes place at 6pm at Nottingham University Business School, South Building on the Jubilee campus off Triumph Road in Nottingham. Online registration is available here. Michael Woodford’s lecture will be followed by a drinks reception and signing of his book; Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal — How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower (Portfolio Penguin).
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