Fujitsu finance chief says sorry for IT giant's role in Post Office Horizon scandal
'Deepest apologies to the sub-postmasters and their families'
Fujitsu's CFO is the latest in the the Japanese vendor's exec ranks to apologize for the megacorp's role in the Post Office Horizon scandal, widely viewed as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in UK history.
Speaking to investors, Takeshi Isobe said the board of directors of the technology and services giant was maintaining strict supervision over the development of the Horizon Saga, as well as the ongoing public inquiry.
Horizon is an EPOS and back-end finance system for thousands of Post Office branches around the UK, first implemented by ICL, a UK technology company which Fujitsu later bought. From 1999 until 2015, 736 local branch managers were wrongfully convicted of fraud when errors in the system were to blame.
The public inquiry into the scandal centers on the deployment of Fujitsu's bug-ridden Horizon accounting system, which made mistakes in calculating the finances of local Post Office branches run by postmasters and postmistresses. This destroyed the lives of many involved, leaving some bankrupt and others feeling suicidal, with several succeeding in ending their lives. Sixty people died before just seeing any sort of justice served.
The UK prime minister has promised to speed up the legal process to quash convictions and compensation for those wrongfully accused.
Isobe told investors: "I would now like to take this opportunity to offer a comment regarding the ongoing inquiry into the UK Post Office Horizon System, which has been covered widely in news reports and media globally since the beginning of the year.
"First and foremost, on behalf of the Fujitsu Group, I would like to convey our deepest apologies to the sub-postmasters and their families, and reiterate that we regard this matter with the utmost seriousness. Our company's UK subsidiary has been cooperating fully with the ongoing UK statutory inquiry, which has been investigating complex events that have unfolded over many years, and going forward we remain fully committed to offering our complete support and cooperation."
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The scandal has received media attention for more than 10 years, but only when UK TV station ITV broadcast a dramatized television series on the subject did it come to the political fore. Since the airing in January, Fujitsu has seen $1 billion wiped off its market value. It has also promised it will no longer bid for UK government projects until the inquiry is finished.
Isobe is the third executive to apologize for Fujitsu's role in the scandal. Paul Patterson, director of Fujitsu Services Ltd, told MPs in January that the company was "truly sorry" for aiding the Post Office's prosecutions while CEO Takahito Tokita, Fujitsu's global chief executive, told the BBC he would apologize for the company's role in the scandal.
Fujitsu reported its Q3 results yesterday. Revenue for its service solutions reached JPY 1.522 trillion ($10.34 billion), up 12.9 percent. ®