* Hearing for unfair dismissal ends in secret deal
* Subject to Olympus board approval June 8
* Woodford had been expected to sue for almost $60 mln
* Says was going sailing to celebrate
By Kirstin Ridley
LONDON, May 29 Michael Woodford, ousted as head
of Japanese camera-to-endoscope maker Olympus after
blowing the whistle on one of Japan's biggest corporate frauds,
on Tuesday won a likely multi-million dollar settlement of his
claim for unfair dismissal.
After a night of negotiations, Woodford's lawyer Tom Linden
told a London employment tribunal judge that final agreement
hinged on ratification by the Olympus board at a meeting on June
"So hopefully today is a closure, a line has been drawn, the
company can move on and I can," Woodford, a 51 year-old Briton,
told reporters outside the courtroom.
"I am not at liberty, under the terms of the agreement, to
go into any detail. But I genuinely hope that in the interests
of Olympus, they can move forward and also that I can."
Woodford, the first foreign CEO appointed at Olympus, was
fired two weeks into the job last October after persistently
warning about corruption at the top echelons of the company.
The company's shares have since crashed, its board has
resigned and, against the backdrop of a clutch of arrests and an
international investigation by U.S., Japanese and British
prosecutors, it is struggling to draw a line under the $1.7
billion accounting scandal.
An out-of-court settlement of Woodford's case was widely
expected after the tribunal was delayed on Monday for extra
discussions among legal teams.
Lawyers say most employers prefer to settle such cases
rather than risk further reputational damage and unlimited
payouts as a result of open court sessions.
LOST SALARY CLAIM
Woodford, who still had 44 months of his CEO contract to
run, had been expected to sue for up to 10 years' lost salary --
worth around 35 million pounds ($56 million) -- although damages
would have hinged in part on whether he is likely ever to regain
a career at global CEO level again.
"I think settlement was always an option, but the adverse
media coverage which Olympus would have attracted by defending
this case would have influenced the amount and the timing of
settlement," noted Jo Keddie, employment partner at law firm
Woodford, who plans to publish a book in English about his
experiences, said he would return to his seaside home in south
"I'm going sailing this afternoon," he told his legal team.
Woodford has said that after an Olympus board meeting at
which he was not allowed to speak, he was told to vacate his
Tokyo apartment, return his laptops and telephones and take the
bus to the airport.
Olympus said Woodford was sacked because the 30-year company
veteran failed to understand its management style and Japanese
But over the following weeks, regulators uncovered an
accounting fraud stretching back over more than a decade.
Woodford abandoned his attempt to launch a board coup and
regain his CEO position in January after failing to win the
backing of Japanese shareholders. He blamed cosy ties between
its management and big local investors.