Kobe Steel CEO to quit over data fraud scandal

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Kobe Steel President and CEO Hiroya Kawasaki bows as he meets with Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Director-General of Manufacturing Industries Bureau, Akihiro Tada at the ministry in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2017.

Toru Hanai | Reuters

Kobe Steel President and CEO Hiroya Kawasaki bows as he meets with Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Director-General of Manufacturing Industries Bureau, Akihiro Tada at the ministry in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2017.

Kobe Steel Ltd said on Tuesday its CEO will step down to take responsibility for a widespread data fraud scandal, although doubts remain over a corporate culture mired in malfeasance and the possibility of future fines.

Japan’s third-largest steelmaker, which supplies steel parts to manufacturers of cars, planes and trains around the world, admitted last year to supplying products with falsified specifications to about 500 customers, throwing global supply chains into turmoil.

Kobe Steel, in announcing the results from a four-month-long investigation by an external committee, said it found a new case of impropriety affecting a total of more than 600 clients.

Hiroya Kawasaki will resign as CEO and Chairman on April 1, with his successor to be decided at a board meeting to be held soon, the company said.

“We discovered that inappropriate actions were widespread, and were carried out with the knowledge and involvement of many, including management,” it said.

“Considering the multiple compliance issues that we’ve had in the past, we must say that there are deep-rooted problems, not only in terms of compliance but also in the corporate culture and mindset of employees and management.”

It also announced the resignation of Executive Vice President Akira Kaneko and temporary pay cuts of up to 80 percent for all internal executive officers.

The case was one of the country’s biggest industrial scandals in recent memory, which set off a rash of malfeasance revelations by other Japanese heavyweights, hitting the country’s reputation for manufacturing excellence.

In the past several months, Mitsubishi Materials Corp, Toray Industries and Ube Industries have also admitted to product data fabrication while automakers Nissan Motor and Subaru Corp have revealed incorrect final inspection procedures.



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