When Woodford became the President and CEO of Olympus in 2011, he was the first westerner ever to climb the ranks of one of Japan’s corporate giants, but within months of his appointment he had uncovered a $1.7 billion accounting fraud.
Realising that the irregularities he’d uncovered could bring down the company, Woodford turned to his fellow executives for answers, but instead of being heralded as a potential saviour, he was dramatically fired by the company’s board.
Worried by rumours that the company had connections with the Japanese mafia, he fled Japan and went straight to the press. In doing so, he became the first CEO of a global corporation to blow the whistle on his own firm.
For its part, Olympus says it sacked Woodford for his management style and his failure to understand Japanese culture – despite the fact that he had been with the firm for 30 years. In a classic case of art imitating life, Woodford has already been approached by Hollywood studios for the rights to a film based on his book.
The investigation is still ongoing and looks set to drag on for years, but for the story so far, you’ll have to read Woodford’s book, which is being published by Penguin (hardback $27.95/£20, ebook $14.99/£11.99).
Story and analysis by Photography Week magazine.