Ericsson has agreed to pay more than $1 billion in a settlement with US authorities to conclude an investigation into alleged bribery.
The Swedish telecoms giant had been accused of a “campaign of corruption” in five countries – Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait - lasting between 2000 and 2016. Allegations included payments to government officials, gifts, and illicit payments disguised as consultancy fees.
“Through slush funds, bribes, gifts and graft, Ericsson conducted telecommunications business with the guiding principle that ‘money talks,’” declared US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York.
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The settlement includes a $520 million payment to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and a $540 million payment to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Ericsson has also agreed to improve its compliance programmes and to be subject to external monitoring for three years.
“I am upset by these past failings. Reaching a resolution with the US authorities allows us to close this legacy chapter,” said Borje Ekholm, Ericsson CEO.”We can now move forward and build a stronger company.
The settlement with the SEC and DOJ shows that we have not always met our standards in doing business the right way. This episode shows the importance of fact-based decision making and a culture that supports speaking up and confronting issues. We have worked tirelessly to implement a robust compliance program. This work will never stop.”
Ericsson will be glad the incident has been resolved as it steps up its efforts in the 5G telecoms equipment market. It has invested significantly in sales and production in the US as it seeks to benefit from Chinese rival Huawei’s effective exclusion from the American market. Finnish mobile giant Nokia is another significant player in the sector.
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