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Ex-Olympus executives get suspended sentences in fraud case

TOKYO — The former chairman of Olympus, the camera maker that has been embroiled in one of Japan’s biggest accounting frauds, was found guilty Wednesday of abetting a $1.7 billion cover-up. Tsuyoshi Kikukawa got a suspended three-year sentence, however, meaning he is likely to avoid prison. Hideo Yamada, a former audit officer, was given a suspended three-year sentence. Hisashi Mori, a former executive vice president, received a lesser suspended sentence. Tokyo District Court ordered Olympus to pay $7 million for falsifying financial reports.

The sentencing ends a scandal that pitted a former Olympus president, a Briton, against his Japanese colleagues, who eventually admitted to running a cover-up.

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Michael C. Woodford, Olympus’ first foreign chief executive, was fired in October 2011 after he presented evidence of accounting fraud.

Kikukawa, chairman at the time, took over as president and initially said Woodford’s Western management style was not good for Olympus. But a campaign by Woodford spurred an independent review that implicated Kikukawa and two others.

Prosecutors had asked for a five-year jail term for Kikukawa and a fine of 1 billion yen for Olympus.

Former executives who are thought to have made the decision to hide the losses were not charged because the statute of limitations had expired.

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