A Tokyo district court has given Olympus former chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa a three-year sentence for his role in the accounting fraud that covered up losses of $1.7bn made by the Japanese camera maker.

Former executives Hideo Yamada and Hisashi Mori have been given three-year and two-and-a-half-year sentences, respectively; and Olympus fined $7m.

The scandal emerged in October 2011 when former chief executive Michael Woodford blew the whistle over accounting irregularities dating back from 1990.

Woodford claimed Olympus’ board paid excessively large fees on the advice of acquisition deals that were used to hide billions in losses and he was dismissed as a result.

Woodford told the International Accounting Bulleting that the lessons of such a "sad tale" should be "obvious" to anyone and emphasised: "I do hope that people in Japan are paying attention."

However Kikukawa, Yamada and Mori, who pleaded guilty during the trials, will avoid jail time as the Tokyo court has pronounced suspended sentences.

Asked whether or not the former chairman and the executives should have been condemned to more severe sentences, Woodford said: "I do not feel that it would be dignified for me to make any comment in relation to the sentencing of my former board colleagues. I have a great affection and fondness for Japan and want to see the country move forward as I do for myself and my family."

In November 2011 the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Japan’s Financial Services Agency launched an investigation which found executives accountable for the $1.7bn cover-up.

The investigation also concluded some aspects of the conduct of KPMG Asza and Ernst & Young ShinNihon, acting then as auditors, were "not appropriate" and "questionable".

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