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Fired CEO Of Embattled Olympus Returns To Japan

Michael Woodford will meet with Japanese officials to discuss a $687 million payment to an obscure firm and possible ties with organized crime.

TOKYO (AP) — Former Olympus Corp. Chief Executive Michael Woodford returned to Japan Wednesday for the first time since his firing last month triggered one of the biggest scandals to ever hit corporate Japan.

Woodford will meet with Japanese officials probing the camera and medical equipment maker after revelations it made a $687 million payment to an obscure Wall Street firm for financial advice.

His itinerary includes the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission, according to Kyodo News agency.

On Friday, the Briton will attend an Olympus board meeting to face the group that abruptly ousted him for questioning dubious past deals and fees. He remains a director at the company and can only be removed by shareholders.

The scandal has cast a harsh light on corporate governance in Japan, which has been repeatedly criticized as falling behind global standards. Recent media reports have also pointed to possible ties between Olympus and organized crime.

Woodford told the throngs of media gathered at Narita International that he is not afraid to be back in Japanand would press for answers during his stay.

"This isn't going to go away, the truth will come out," he said. "Please now have the dignity, at least the dignity, to accept that the game is up."

Woodford went public with his concerns after his sacking.

Olympus initially denied wrongdoing but eventually acknowledged that exorbitant payments for financial advice and expensive acquisitions were used to cover up heavy investment losses from the 1990s.

Tsuyoshi Kikukawa resigned as president on Oct. 26 and was replaced by Shuichi Takayama. The company blamed the accounting scheme on Kikukawa, former executive vice president Hisashi Mori and ex-auditor Hideo Yamada. It has established a third-party panel to conduct an inquiry.

Olympus now risks being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange unless it can rectify past filings with regulators by reporting revised earnings by Dec. 14. The company's shares have plummeted 65 percent since the scandal broke in mid-October.

The issue surged 20 percent on Tuesday after the independent committee commissioned by Olympus issued a statement saying it has found no evidence so far linking any past acquisition funds to organized crime syndicates.

Woodford said a delisting is "the last thing I want" because it would hurt employees and shareholders, according to Kyodo.

He has scheduled a press conference Friday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

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