Woodford named "boldest business person of year"

LONDON Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:06pm IST

Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford speaks during a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo January 6, 2012. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford speaks during a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo January 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Woodford, the former Olympus(7733.T) CEO who blew the whistle on one of Japan's most high-profile frauds, added the title of "boldest business person of the year" to his list of awards for unearthing the $1.7 billion accounting scandal.

Woodford, a rare foreign CEO in Japan who was fired last October after questioning a series of murky acquisitions and fees, received his latest accolade at the Financial Times ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards on Tuesday evening.

"If there was one person who captured the spirit of boldness in business in 2011, it was Michael Woodford at Olympus," said FT editor Lionel Barber.

Armed with a laptop, a clutch of documents and a tale of intrigue, 51-year-old Woodford alerted prosecutors and journalists around the world to a scandal that has seen seven arrested and which sent Olympus's stock plunging 80 percent.

Woodford is one of the few business people to have received awards from almost all major British newspapers. He has been named "Briton of the Year" by The Telegraph and "Business Person of the Year" by The Times, The Independent and The Sun.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the international anti-fraud organisation, has also awarded him its 2012 Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award for whistleblowing.

Woodford is penning an English language memoir of his experiences - to be published by Penguin around October and currently entitled "Exposure" - and is collaborating on a Japanese language book, due to hit bookshelves next month.

Penguin Books UK's editorial director Joel Rickett has bought the world English language rights jointly with Adrian Zackheim at Penguin USA.

In Japan, according to Woodford's UK literary agents Conville & Walsh, rights to the book were sold at auction for a high six-figure dollar figure. It will be published by Hiroshi Hayakawa at Hayakawa Publishing, with Hamish MacAskill of the English Agency in Tokyo acting as co-agent.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Jodie Ginsberg)

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