Olympus to pay $15.4 million to sacked British CEO

Troubled Japanese camera and medical equipment maker Olympus will be paying its former British chief executive a whopping $15.4 million in settlement for having arbitrarily dismissed him after he raised objections to some dubious accounting practices.

Michael Woodford, the former CEO of Olympus had sued the Japanese company in a British court, accusing it of illegally firing him and discriminating against him for being a non-Japanese executive. Last week, the two sides reached a settlement and on Saturday the Olympus board approved the deal.

''We reached a fair and amicable agreement, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish the new board well in taking Olympus forward,'' Woodford said in London. ''It is a wonderful company with wonderful products and people and has a bright future ahead of it.''

The Briton had worked for the Japanese company for 30 years. Last October, he was promoted as CEO, a rare achievement for a non-Japanese. However, within days of taking over, Woodford raised objections to commissions paid by the firm to shady overseas transactions. He was later sacked by the company.

But Woodford emerged as a hero after he blew the whistle and several institutional investors in Olympus also called for a probe. The Tokyo Stock Exchange also threatened to delist the company.

After an internal investigation, Olympus revealed that it had hid $1.7 billion in investment losses from its books and also admitted at having paid exorbitant fees to intermediaries who arranged overseas acquisitions.