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Exclusive: Banker in Olympus scandal steps into public view


(Reuters) – A Japanese banker who is a key figure in the Olympus accounting fraud came into public view for the first time since the scandal broke, appearing on Friday at his divorce hearing in a Florida court.

Hajime “Jim” Sagawa ran a U.S. investment firm that earned a massive $687 million fee for advising Olympus in a 2008 acquisition deal that ranks as the largest advisory payment in history.

Olympus has admitted the deal along with others was part of a 13-year scheme to cover up $1.7 billion in losses in an accounting fraud that has caused the company’s stock market value to drop around 40 percent since October.

The scandal, involving inflated advisory fees and prices in acquisition deals, has triggered investigations by law enforcement agencies in the United States, Japan and Britain.

An outside investigation commissioned by Olympus found the scheme was hatched by several key executives and aimed to hide losses from investors, but law-enforcement agencies are continuing their investigations.

The whereabouts of Sagawa, a former PaineWebber banker, were unknown until Reuters located him when he attended the divorce hearing in a state court in Delray Beach, Florida.

When asked about the Olympus case, he responded with a terse “no comment.” Pressed further, he waved his hand and said “it’s rude” to keep asking.

Dressed in a blue sport coat and gray slacks, Sagawa emerged with his ex-wife from a courtroom after a final divorce hearing.

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