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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.

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

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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.

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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.