A Compilation of the True Natures of Salarymen: Olympus Investigation Report

A Compilation of the True Natures of Salarymen: Olympus Investigation Report
Yomiuri Shimbun: サラリーマン根性の集大成…オリンパス調査報告
December 6, 2011

These are the main points from the December 6 report from the third party investigation of Olympus.

Enormous Operating Losses
Olympus had placed great importance on money managing strategy ever since 1985, when Tomoshirō Shimoyama was its president and the strengthening of the yen began cutting into its profits. Operating losses swelled when the Japanese economic bubble burst in 1990. In 1985, the operating budget became the sole responsibility of the Accounting Department’s Fundraising Group Leader Hideo Yamada, previously the full-time auditor; in 1987, Hisashi Mori, previously the vice president, became his subordinate.

Scheme to Separate the Company From Its Losses (aka Scheme To Make Losses “Fly Away”)
Beginning in April 2000, in order to make the company’s debt statements better match its prevailing market valuation, Messrs. Yamada and Mori devised a scheme to move financial assets from 1997-98, which included losses, into off-the-books accounts. This strategy to separate the company’s losses from its ledger was called a “flight” scheme. The accounts which were the receptacles for these losses (1) were financed by company money and used company money as collateral, and (2) bought toxic assets from the company. Receptacle funds were established in Europe, Singapore, and Japan.

Messrs. Yamada and Mori reported their actions to former president Masatomo Kishimoto, who agreed to them. His successor, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, was informed by January 2000. The management of these massive debts was passed to him as part of his inheritance of the company, a so-called “secret top priority management problem”.

Loss Annulment Scheme
Olympus still had to find money to secretly finance and eventually repay these loans. Messrs. Yamada and Mori created a money stream for these credit/debit transactions by having Olympus (1) buy companies the secret funds had purchased cheaply for high prices and (2) pay the funds large commission fees for large-scale purchases. They thought the gaps between the purchase prices and the actual values of the watered assets would accumulate with each transaction and pay off the hidden debts in 10-20 years.

To begin with, Olympus raised capital to buy Altis and two other domestic companies, for which it paid a high price of ¥732 million in the first quarter of 2008. Some of this money was funneled to the accounts for the “fly away” schemes to pay off debts. But the companies were audited and revaluated at ¥557 million in the first quarter of 2009.

Next, after Olympus bought English medical equipment manufacturer Gyrus, it paid stock options in that company to an American investment advice company as a contingent fee; in June 2008, the American company transferred $24 million to an account in the Cayman Islands. That November, that corporation, following a secret agreement it had made with Mr. Mori, requested that money back. Mr. Mori told the company that “the corporation in the Caymans seems to need cash because of the American financial shock.” Mr. Mori inflated the amount of the company’s request to $724 million, and Olympus ultimately paid $620 million.

The total of the losses that were put into hiding was ¥96 billion in 1999-2000 and had grown to ¥117.7 billion in 2003. After that, ¥71.6 billion was sent to the “fly away” funds, and ¥63.2 billion more was sent during the Gyrus affair, for a total of ¥134.8 billion assigned to covering scheme expenses.

Messrs. Kishimoto and Kikukawa regularly received reports from Messrs. Yamada and Mori about the loss annulment schemes and assented to their activities.

The Cause
Olympus concentrated power over its operating budget to a small, elite group which totally cut off participation from any other part of the company. This group was led by a single person, the most senior in its ranks. Mr. Yamada and company thought of the asset flight scheme as a way to get around changes in accounting standards. Their scheme violated the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act and is forbidden for listed companies. Its central management was corrupt, and the company’s outlying divisions were also polluted; this affair should be considered a compilation of the true natures of salarymen. There were many yes-men among the directors, and external auditors were unable to complete their responsibilities.

Original/原稿:
サラリーマン根性の集大成…オリンパス調査報告

 「オリンパス」の第三者委員会が6日公表した調査報告書の要旨は次の通り。

 ◆巨額の運用損◆

 オリンパスは1985年以降の円高で営業利益が減少し、下山敏郎社長の時代に財テクを重要な経営戦略と位置付けた。90年にバブルが崩壊すると運用損は膨れあがった。85年ごろ、運用は経理部資金グループの係長だった山田秀雄・前常勤監査役が一手に引き受け、87年に森久志・前副社長が部下となった。

 ◆損失分離(飛ばし)スキーム◆

 山田、森両氏は2000年4月以降に適用される貸借対照表の時価評価主義に合わせるため、97~98年、含み損を抱えた金融資産を、連結決算から外れるファンドを使って簿外に分離する「飛ばし」のスキーム(計画)を考えた。このスキームは、受け皿となるファンドに〈1〉オリンパスの預金などを担保に銀行から融資させる〈2〉オリンパスが設立したファンドから資金を流す――ことで、含み損を抱えた金融商品を買い取らせる仕組みだった。受け皿ファンドはヨーロッパ、シンガポール、国内に設立された。

 両氏は損失処理策を当時の岸本正寿社長に報告し、了承を得た。菊川剛・前会長には、00年1月までに報告された。損失処理策は巨大な負の遺産として、いわば「裏の最優先経営課題」と位置付けられていた。

 ◆損失解消スキーム◆

 オリンパスは預金担保貸し付けで資金を調達したため、いずれは返済しなければならず、ファンドへの出資金も償還してもらう必要があった。そこで山田、森両氏は〈1〉ファンドが安価に購入した企業を高額で買い取る〈2〉大型の買収案件で高額の手数料を支払う――などで資金を流し、還流させて債権債務を整理する手法を考えた。その際、取得した資産を水増し評価することで、実際の買収価格と買収先の資産の差額である「のれん代」を計上、10~20年で償却しようと考えた。

 まず、国内ファンドが「アルティス」など3社の増資を引き受け、オリンパスは08年までに3社の株式を割高な732億円で取得した。こうしてファンドに飛ばした損失の一部は、3社の「のれん」として資産計上されることになった。しかし監査法人の指摘を受け、09年3月期に557億円の減損処理を行った。

 さらにオリンパスは、英医療機器メーカー「ジャイラス」買収の成功報酬として同社の株式オプションなどを米投資助言会社に与えたが、08年6月、同社はこれをケイマン法人に2400万ドルで譲渡した。同11月、同法人は森氏との密約に基づき、オリンパスにその買い取りを要求。森氏は社内で「リーマンショックでケイマン法人が現金を必要としているらしい」と説明した。森氏は同法人の要求額を7億2400万ドルにつり上げさせ、最終的に6億2000万ドルで買い取った。

 99~00年ごろに分離された損失額は960億円、03年では1177億円だった。その後、損失の拡大などで損失分離先のファンドに流出した716億円と、ジャイラス買収に関連して支払った632億円の計1348億円が、スキーム維持費用などに充てられた。

 岸本、菊川両氏は山田氏らから損失解消策の報告も受け、了承していた。

 ◆原因◆

 オリンパスでは、少数精鋭グループに金融資産の運用権限を集中させ、他部門からの関与を一切遮断した。組織を1人のリーダーが動かすという体制が長年継続した。山田氏らは会計基準の変更に合わせるため、飛ばしのスキームを考えた。これは金融商品取引法などに違反し、上場企業としてあってはならない。経営の中心部分が腐っており、その周辺部分も汚染され、サラリーマン根性の集大成ともいうべき状態だった。取締役にはイエスマンが多く、監査法人も責務を十分果たすことができなかった。

(2011年12月6日20時42分 読売新聞)

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