Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund, Tokyo, is suing Toshiba Corp. for just less than ¥1 billion ($9.4 million) over valuation losses on the ¥139.8 trillion fund's holdings of Toshiba shares in the wake of an accounting scandal at the Tokyo-based company, which came to light last summer, a GPIF spokesman said Thursday.
Shinichiro Mori, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the world's biggest pension fund, said in an e-mail that one of the GPIF's external service providers, Japan Trustee Services Bank, had filed the suit, seeking ¥964 million in damages on the GPIF's behalf.
Toshiba has been plagued by record losses and executive resignations after unveiling years of padded profits at the conglomerate, which makes everything from computers to nuclear power equipment. Shares have tumbled more than 40% since April 2015, when it withdrew its earnings forecast and announced an accounting probe that was later expanded.
GPIF has sought to bolster its stewardship of the nation's pension savings amid a broader push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make investors more engaged with the companies that they invest in. The country introduced guidelines for shareholders in 2014, which GPIF has pledged to follow, and started a corporate governance code last year.
“Having such a big presence behind this lawsuit is going to pressure others to follow, and also make company executives more aware of governance at their firms,” said Takashi Aoki, a fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co. “It's also going to put off other institutional investors from buying Toshiba shares.”
Toshiba spokeswoman Yuu Takase confirmed that Japan Trustee Services Bank filed the suit and declined to comment further as the case is pending.
Bloomberg contributed to this story.