Ericsson fined $207m for masking internal probe into bribes for ISIS
The Swedish Ericsson telecom company has participated in corruption schemes in several countries.
Ericsson, the Swedish telecom giant, has been fined $207 million for violating a deferred prosecution agreement with US authorities by concealing evidence of serious misconduct in Iraq, where the company allegedly bribed ISIS to gain access to a specific transport route between 2011 and 2019.
In a statement issued on March 2, Ericsson stated that it had entered "a guilty plea regarding previously deferred charges relating to conduct prior to 2017" for failing to inform US authorities of its investigation.
Court documents released on Thursday confirmed Ericsson "omitted" details about its dealings in Iraq in previous disclosures to the US Department of Justice. According to prosecutors, the extent of the allegations became clear only after investigative journalists sent questions to the company and the DOJ.
According to US prosecutors, Ericsson paid a record $1 billion fine in 2019 for a "years-long campaign of corruption" involving bribery of government officials and falsification of books and records in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kuwait. However, the deal expected the company to report any potential wrongdoing and submit to an outside monitor over a three-year period.
Recently, CNBC reported that the French company that operated in #Syria and #Iraq, Lafarge Cement, agreed to plead guilty to US federal criminal charges related to millions it paid to fund ISIS from 2012 to 2014. pic.twitter.com/JKmMrXA2yM— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 20, 2022
A leaked internal report from Ericsson obtained in February 2022 by the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) showed that the telecommunications firm spent millions of dollars funneling weapons and equipment into ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq.
In emails obtained by the ICIJ, they suggested "illegal bypassing of customs and passing through ISIS-controlled areas in connection to transportation in Iraq."
The report further revealed that Ericsson issued bribes to ISIS to maintain its presence and services in Iraq after the terror group seized up to 40% of the country's territory. It also included information regarding the use of 30 trucks, and paid $3,000 to $4,000 per load to carry Ericsson products into ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq.
Ericsson said in a release that its probe “did not conclude that Ericsson made or was responsible for any payments to any terrorist organization.” The company added that an investigation from 2022 did not change that assessment.
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Two months ago, the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, against which Washington has opened two investigations, announced that it has allocated about $220 million for possible fines in a corruption case in Iraq, one of which is related to the ISIS terrorist organization.
Ericsson stated that it "has not reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice regarding these alleged violations and that discussions are continuing to resolve the dispute."
The group said in a statement that the amount "will be booked in the Company’s fourth quarter 2022 financial results," which it will publish later this month.