TOKYO (TR) – The scandal involving financial irregularities by Japanese camera maker Olympus may have ties to the nation’s yakuza criminal syndicates, Agence France-Presse reported, citing local media.
The fees Olympus paid to advisors on at least four deals involving billions of dollars may have been indirectly funneled to organized crime families, the AFP report said. One of those deals involved a $687 million fee Olympus paid in 2008 to a little-known adviser in its $2 billion acquisition of U.K. medical equipment company Gyrus Group Plc.
“They are not members of crime syndicates themselves, but are said to have links to people who conduct economic activities together with antisocial forces,” the AFP cited the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun as saying. “There is the possibility that Olympus has supplied cash (to organized crime) as a result, without knowing the background of (investment) funds effectively controlled by such brokers,” the Sankei said.
Olympus publicly admitted to hiding losses starting in the 1990s. An independent investigative panel set up by the company rejected media reports that suggested crime figures were involved any of the questionable deals, the AFP report said.
Senior officials at the 92-year-old company are accused of hiding losses through a scheme called tobashi — meaning to let fly — according to AFP. The procedure involves moving losses off their accounts and into areas where investors cannot see them, the news service said.