U.S. investor sues Olympus over takeovers scandal

Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:01pm EST

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(Reuters) - A U.S. investor sued Japan's Olympus Corp, accusing the scandal-hit company of making false statements about its finances and intentionally hiding losses from investors.

Lloyd Graham, who owns 55 American Depository Receipts of Olympus (OCPNY.PK), filed a securities lawsuit against the company on Monday, seeking to recover investment losses. The lawsuit seeks class-action status to represent all investors who bought Olympus ADRs in the five years leading up to November 7.

A spokesman for Olympus America did not immediately return a call for comment.

Japan's securities watchdog and authorities in Japan, the United States and Britain are probing the 92-year-old company, which admitted last week it hid investment losses for two decades using funds linked to takeover deals.

The lawsuit also names as defendants Shuichi Takayama, the company's current president, as well as Michael Woodford, who was fired as chief executive in October and then became a whistle blower. The court papers also named Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who resigned as president on October 26, as a defendant.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court for Pennsylvania's Eastern District, which covers Center Valley near Allentown where Olympus has its U.S. headquarters.

The Olympus scandal may not prompt the flurry of securities lawsuits that usually quickly follow accusations of cover-ups and misleading statements by companies.

For one thing, Olympus primary stock listing is in Tokyo (7733.T). Recent court rulings have limited U.S. investors' ability to sue in U.S. courts over purchases of securities on foreign exchanges.

In addition, the company's ADRs only account for about 1 percent of the company's float and no one investor has holdings of more than $1 million, according to BNY Mellon Depositary Receipts. This makes it unlikely that ADR investors could collectively seek a big recovery by suing.

That has not stopped others from trying to get involved. At least four other law firms in the United States put out press releases encouraging potential plaintiffs to contact them.

The case is Lloyd Graham v Olympus Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 11-7103.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andre Grenon)

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