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Michael Woodford: the ​Olympus CEO who blew the whistle on $1.7 billion fraud speaks about corporate governance, strong culture and leading by example

We strongly recommend you read Michael Woodford‘s critically acclaimed book, “Exposure” (2012). We also enjoyed “$1.7 Billion Fraud: Full Exposure” which premièred on Monday – the 75 minute documentary on the Olympus scandal from the acclaimed Japanese director Hyoe Yamamoto. Our Asia Pacific MD Raleigh Addington recently caught up with Michael in an exclusive interview, which you can listen to here. All are superb introductions to Michael’s extraordinary story.

Backdrop Slide - Kentish Town tube station

“I’ve had the honour of hosting six Nobel Prize winners, three US presidents, two heads of state and an archbishop as well as many leading commentators from the fields of economics, finance, politics and civic society; Michael Woodford stands out as one of the most captivating and interesting speakers myself and our members have been lucky enough to hear from in our history.” CEO, Private Equity Firm

By far the best way of realising what it took for Michael to challenge the culture of fraud and cover up in the Olympus boardroom is to book him as a speaker. Michael talks about how to create and maintain a positive corporate culture, hardwire good governance into your organisation, socially responsible business and how all of us can move towards a more moral type of capitalism.

For more information on how to book Michael Woodford as a keynote speaker for your conference or client event, please get in touch with Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call on +44 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon discusses why “whistleblowers are good for business”

Annie Machon was an MI5 officer when she became concerned about institutional failings in her workplace in 1997. Her best-selling book on the subject, “Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5, MI6 and the Shayler Affair” was published in 2005. In an article for Natwest Business Sense, she explains how it could all have worked out differently, for her and her former employer – and why whistleblowers are good for business.

Annie believes that in a “don’t rock the boat, and just follow orders” environment there is no ventilation, no accountability and no staff federation. Consequently, this leads to a general consensus – a bullying “group think” mentality, which in turn can lead to mistakes being covered up rather than lessons learned, and then potentially down a dangerous moral slide.

She notes that this isn’t just applicable in the world of intelligence; in other sectors of work mistakes can be just as life threatening and the need for exposure just as great. However, Annie contends that “if employers institute a culture of trust and accountability, where employees with concerns can be fairly heard, the appropriate action taken, and justice done, the needs and imperatives behind whistleblowing would disappear.

Annie concludes by saying that “potential problems could be nipped in the bud, improving public trust and confidence in the probity of the organisation and avoiding all the bad publicity following a whistleblowing case.”

Click here to read the full article.

For more information on how to book Annie Machon as a keynote speaker for your conference or client event, please get in touch with Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call on +44 (0) 20 7792 8000.

In conversation with Michael Woodford, the first CEO in history to become a whistleblower of his own company

Raleigh Addington, Chartwell’s new Managing Director for the Asia Pacific region, caught up with the famed whistleblower Michael Woodford MBE, former CEO of Olympus Industries, in the latest episode of our podcast series.

In a situation described as the Japanese Enron, Michael found himself in the middle of treachery and intrigue shortly after being appointed President of Olympus in April 2011, when he discovered a $1.7 billion accounting fraud. Olympus corporate executives were hiding huge investment losses through complex takeover deals and secret off-balance-sheet vehicles. Michael blew the whistle on the scandal and was fired on Oct. 14, 2011. When he left the building that day, he feared for his life.

Michael immediately left Japan and flew to England. After arrival in London he offered to speak to investigators. By 2012 the scandal he exposed had developed into one of the biggest and longest-lived loss-concealing financial scandals in the history of corporate Japan.

In this short interview, Michael discusses how life has changed since 2011, how Japanese culture inhibits the act of whistleblowing, and outlines the fundamental message he tells businesses worldwide.

For more information, or to book Michael Woodford as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Raleigh Addington at or call +852 5512 9714.

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