April 22, 2010 8:57 pm

Ousted Fujitsu chief intensifies dispute

Fujitsu’s ousted former president Kuniaki Nozoe increased the pressure on his former employer on Thursday by publicly sending it a series of questions and playing a recording of the meeting that led to his departure last September.

Mr Nozoe alleged that Fujitsu’s offer of Y270m ($2.9m) to act as an adviser for 10 years after his resignation had conditions attached which were intended to secure his silence.

He has threatened to launch a shareholder lawsuit against some of Fujitsu’s directors. He alleges they used unfounded accusations of links to organised crime to force him to resign and that the company lost money as a result.

His questions include a demand to know why Fujitsu has not set up an independent committee to investigate the case. Fujitsu said it has received Mr Nozoe’s questions but cannot comment because of the likelihood that the matter will go to court.

Fujitsu has denied Mr Nozoe’s allegations and said his failure to break off ties with an investment fund suspected of links to “anti-social forces” (a term widely used in Japan for organised crime) made him unfit to remain as president.

The tape played to reporters records a dramatic meeting between Mr Nozoe and a small group of Fujitsu directors and advisers last September.

On the recording, Mr Nozoe is asked a series of questions by one of Fujitsu’s statutory auditors, Megumi Yamamuro, about his dealings with the investment fund and two of its executives.

Fujitsu director Hiroshi Oura then says that given Mr Nozoe’s relationship with the fund executives and allegations concerning their links to “anti-social forces”, the board has decided that he must resign or be fired.

Mr Nozoe asks why he was not warned about the danger but says that, if it is the will of the board, he has no choice. He then signs the resignation papers.

Sandringham Private Value, a Japanese affiliate of UK-based Sandringham Capital Partners, has sued three directors of Fujitsu for defamation, complaining that it has been identified as the fund involved in the case. It denies any links to organised crime.

In a separate interview on Thursday, the new president of Fujitsu, Masami Yamamoto, defended its corporate governance.

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