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"I am seen by most of corporate Japan as a traitor"

Michael Woodford on "the Enron of Japan"

What would you do if, as CEO, you discovered the cover-up of $1.7 billion of fraud at the company you had worked at for 30 years?

That was Michael Woodford MBE's question to an enthralled audience at Cass last week.

The former President and CEO of Olympus was giving the inaugural Contrarian Prize lecture.

Woodford is the first CEO in history to become a whistleblower on his own corporation.

At the event he elegantly painted a picture of his ascent, the changes he put in place during his short tenure at the top of Olympus and his affection for the Japanese.

But then came allegations of wrongdoing at the company.

Japanese magazine Facta alleged that Olympus had bought three companies for vastly inflated sums and that $700 million in advisory fees had been paid to consultants in connection with the transactions.

Woodford's decision to speak out led to a crash in the company's share price, the resignation of the entire board and turned Olympus into "the Enron of Japan".

See storify for more of Woodford's tale or, for the full story, buy Woodford's book which is shortly to become a major motion picture.

Woodford is the first winner of the Contrarian Prize which celebrates independence, courage and sacrifice in business.

Nominations are now open for next year's award.

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