Olympus scandal is to be turned into TV series
THE British chief executive who exposed a £1.1bn scandal at the heart of Japanese giant Olympus has landed an international TV deal showcasing his dramatic story.
Whistle-blower Michael Woodford was hounded out of Japan and left in fear for his life after unearthing a web of corruption within the company just weeks after being appointed as chief executive in 2011. Now American production company Tenafly has signed a deal to turn his book Exposure into a six-part television series similar to hit show The Night Manager.
Josh Sugarman, director of development at New York-based Tenafly, said: “Michael’s story is the first in an anthology we are producing of brave men and women standing up for what is right.
“His experience shows how dramatic whistle-blowing can be. He was a company man his whole life but then had to make the decision to stand up for what was right, facing down people he had worked with for decades.”
When Mr Woodford tried to highlight payments of hundreds of millions of dollars for apparently worthless companies, his efforts were blocked by fellow Olympus executives. He was quickly sacked and faced legal action. On his return to the UK, Woodford was warned by the police he could be assassinated by Japan’s mafia.
The deal comes as Japan digests a fresh series of corporate scandals. These include Kobe Steel faking quality data on components used in critical applications including in the aerospace, rail and nuclear sectors, and car giant Nissan’s use of unqualified staff to certify vehicles.
Mr Woodford, who now advises on corporate governance, business in Japan, and campaigns to protect whistleblowers, said: “Japanese executives are prepared to compromise their own integrity – and often commit illegal acts – in a perverted view [that] the priority is to ‘protect’ the company at any cost, although many times such logic cloaks the real motivation of self-interest.
“The series will help people understand Japanese corporate culture and encourage future whistle-blowers to come forward.”
Tenafly is identifying network partners to air the series, with terrestrial broadcasters, Amazon and Netflix all under consideration.
Michael Woodford, ex-president of Olympus, surrounded by reporters in 2011. His whistle-blowing story is to be made into a TV series