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Toshiba said to face biggest fine by Japan finance regulator

Monday, December 7, 2015 - 14:22
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The logo of Toshiba Corp is seen at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan on Nov 6, 2015.

[TOKYO] Japan's Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission plans to recommend fining Toshiba about 7 billion yen (S$79.5 million) for falsifying earnings, the largest financial penalty ever sought by the watchdog, SESC officials said.

The SESC aims to announce the recommendation Monday, the officials said, asking not to be identified as the information is confidential. Toshiba misled investors by filing false financial statements dating back to 2009, the officials said.

The commission is still considering whether to recommend penalties against former top executives at Toshiba, one of the officials said. Takuji Yano, a spokesman for the Financial Services Agency, which oversees the SESC, declined to comment.

Toshiba has replaced its top management and is raising cash by selling shareholdings and operations in the wake of Japan's biggest accounting scandal since camera maker Olympus Corp's US$1.7 billion in irregularities in 2011. The Tokyo-based electronics and industrial group, which has lost about 40 per cent of its value since disclosing an internal probe on April 3, has set aside 8.4 billion yen to cover possible fines in the case.

Motohiro Ajioka, a spokesman for Toshiba, declined to comment.

Former Presidents The conglomerate, which makes everything from nuclear power plants to chips, washing machines, televisions and laptop computers, also faces lawsuits from shareholders.

Regulators have yet to announce results of probes seeking evidence for possible criminal prosecutions of former executives, including the three ex-presidents that quit the company after investigations concluded they caused subordinates to falsify results.

Former presidents Hisao Tanaka, Norio Sasaki and Atsutoshi Nishida resigned in July and the company has cut executive pay, trimmed its workforce and revamped its board amid a scandal that widened repeatedly as more irregularities were uncovered. The company has said it is suing the three former CEOs and two former chief financial officers, seeking 300 million yen of damages.

Toshiba is considering spinning off its unprofitable personal computer operations and merging it with the same businesses of Fujitsu and Sony. spinoff Vaio, joining forces to tackle a market in decline as consumers shift to tablets and smartphones. Toshiba got about 7 per cent of its revenue, or about 128 billion yen, from PCs in the September quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Worldwide PC industry shipments are on course to shrink 4.9 per cent to below 300 million units this year after peaking at 364 million in 2011, according to IDC Corp. Vaio, which was spun off from Sony in July 2014, would likely be the surviving company, with the other two making investments and transferring their operations to the combined entity, the Nikkei reported on Friday.

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