Fujitsu shares drop nearly 4% as its Europe chief says compensating Post Office victims is a 'ethical obligation'

Paul Patterson, Europe co-CEO of Fujitsu Services, giving proof to the Business and Trade Committee on the Houses of Parliament, London, on what extra will be finished to ship compensation for victims of what has been labelled one of many worst miscarriages of justice in British historical past.

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Shares of Fujitsu sank virtually 4% on Wednesday after the Japanese IT agency’s Europe co-CEO, Paul Patterson, mentioned compensating those that suffered due to the corporate’s defective software program was a “ethical obligation.”

The firm, whose shares have been the second-largest loser on the Nikkei index, signaled it might compensate lots of of sub-postmasters wrongly prosecuted within the UK as a results of its faulty software program.

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Between 1999 and 2015, 736 sub-postmasters, who’re self-employed department managers underneath contract to the Post Office, have been subjected to prosecutions and monetary misconduct convictions primarily based on inaccurate information generated by Horizon, a software program program made by Fujitsu.

This case obtained new public consideration this 12 months when ITV broadcast a drama sequence, “Mr Bates vs The Post Office,” in regards to the sub-postmasters battle for justice.

Horizon was manufactured by Fujitsu in 1999 and rolled out throughout Post Office branches to handle monetary transactions. Complaints quickly emerged that it was falsely reporting money shortfalls.

Appearing before British MPs on the House of Commons Business and Trade Committee, Patterson mentioned that “Fujitsu want to apologize for our half on this appalling miscarriage of justice.”

“We did have bugs and errors within the system and we did assist the Post Office of their prosecutions of the sub-postmasters,” he instructed the committee.

When Patterson was requested how a lot Fujitsu ought to contribute in direction of compensation, he didn’t give an actual determine, however mentioned he anticipated to “sit down with the Government to find out our contribution to the redress” as soon as the inquiry was accomplished.

The authorities has put aside 1 billion kilos in compensation for victims of the Post Office scandal.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia,” Timothy Morse, founding accomplice of impartial Japanese fairness advisory mentioned that it was “wonderful” that Fujitsu didn’t come up on this case till not too long ago.

“This scandal dates again years. And the position of the publish workplace has been well-known in these courtroom prosecutions, however Fujitsu for some purpose had been not often talked about within the press.”

Replacing Fujitsu in UK government contracts could be 'very expensive,' says equity advisory firm

In a assertion to CNBC, Fujitsu mentioned “the present Post Office Horizon IT statutory Inquiry is analyzing complicated occasions stretching again over 20 years to grasp who knew what, when, and what they did with that data.”

The assertion additionally added that the inquiry has strengthened the devastating influence on postmasters’ lives and that of their households, and Fujitsu has apologized for its position of their struggling.” The firm added it is “totally dedicated” to supporting the inquiry “to be able to perceive what occurred and to study from it.”

Morse expects Fujitsu must shoulder a “cheap monetary burden,” however the firm might not need to bear the entire 1 billion kilos that the British authorities has put aside as compensation.

On Jan.11, the BBC reported that regardless of the scandal and ongoing inquiry, the Post Office paid Fujitsu over 95 million kilos to increase the Horizon IT system’s utilization for 2 years.

Fujitsu has not made a provision for the contribution but, however Patterson mentioned “once we get to that place we are going to completely need to make a provision for it.”

When Morse was requested if the scandal meant that Fujitsu can be “persona non grata” for future UK authorities contracts, he mentioned that it “might be a risk.”

However, he additionally highlighted that Fujitsu is very near the UK authorities after its buy of British laptop firm ICL in 1998, which provided computer systems to the British public sector.

“The title of Fujitsu has been tainted however … they’re very effectively embedded in UK authorities IT contracts. So, really changing Fujitsu will be very costly.”

Fujitsu reputational costs may be more severe than cost of compensating Post Office victims: Analyst

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