Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal:

How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower

When Michael Woodford was made president of Olympus, he became the first Westerner ever to climb to the top of one of Japan’s corporate giants. Unfortunately, soon after, his dream job turned into a nightmare. Woodford learned about a series of bizarre mergers and acquisitions deals totaling $1.7 billion—a scandal that threatened to bring down the entire company if exposed.

Just weeks later, he was fired in a boardroom coup that shocked Japan and the business world. Woodford fled the country in fear for his life and went straight to the press—making him the first CEO of a global multinational to blow the whistle on his own company.

Now Woodford recounts his almost unbelievable true story and paints a devastating portrait of corporate Japan.

“His story is filled with mystery, suspense, and betrayal.”  —Management Today

“A gripping chronicle.”  —Kirkus Reviews

“I had walked into a John Grisham novel.” —Michael Woodford

About the Author


  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (February 25, 2014)




“A gripping chronicle by a corporate whistle-blower who achieved a stunning victory.”
Kirkus Reviews

Exposure treats readers to a fascinating inside look at bare-knuckled corporate governance…[it] should be compulsory reading for company directors and MBA students.”
The Economist

“Woodford has written a brilliantly gripping book, with a great hero at its heart. His story is all the more frightening for being true.”
—Rosamund Urwin, The Evening Standard (UK)

“Michael Woodford took a considerable risk in exposing wrongdoing. He was a study of boldness in action.”

—Lionel Barber, editor, Financial Times

“Woodford’s reaction to the corporate malfeasance and corruption he discov­ered once he reached the top is even more noteworthy, though perhaps not surprising. Throughout his life he had demonstrated a willingness to speak out against what he perceived as treachery, even when it could result in financial harm or personal danger.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

“Michael Woodford could have spent years turning a blind eye to the shady dealings of corporate executives at Olympus. Instead . . . he dove headfirst into allegations of corporate misconduct.”

Time, in naming him a 2011 Person Who Mattered

“Michael Woodford is a man who did not stand by and do nothing. He stood his ground and he spoke the truth. It’s people like him who keep our soci­ety from falling into total darkness. Japan could use more people like him.”

—Jake Adelstein, author of Tokyo Vice, from the Afterword

“He’s the most celebrated international whistleblower of recent times. His story is filled with mystery, suspense, and betrayal.”

Management Today

“Michael Woodford lost his job for his integrity.”

The Economist


Amazon Reviews:


A financial scandal and a culture clash

Woodhead’s story of Olympus’ financial shenanigans is straightforwardly told with enough personal color to engage our sympathies, although the paranoia about Yakuza involvement turns out to be overblown. Dismissed as the first non-Japanese CEO of the company for refusing to go along with a financial cover-up perpetrated by the board to hide losses, Woodhead’s own integrity is impugned by the company he served for decades. He fights back well enough to clear his name and cause the ouster of the guilty, but fails to win reinstatement. This is a cautionary tale for Japanese companies – the culture of putting face-saving ahead of shareholder interests does not serve the giants of Japanese capitalism well in a globalized economy.

A Must Read for Auditors and anyone interested in corporate governance!

For auditors I think this book is a must read and for CEOs likely falls into the same category. It provide excellent insight into how governance and culture can greatly impact an organization in both positive and negative ways. It also provides some interesting insight into the Japanese business culture.

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