Microsoft whistleblower exposes massive foreign bribery network
A whistleblower exposes a Microsoft bribery network exceeding $200 million.
Microsoft is partaking in massive foreign bribery in kickback networks in countries around the world, but most notably in West Asia and Africa, according to a former 20-year employee of the company.
Yasser Elabd began working in Microsoft back in 1998, and was promoted several times during his career with the company. However, in 2016, Elabd began seeing irregularities in payment coming from Microsoft's business investment fund.
According to an article published Friday by whistleblower platform Lioness, the former Microsoft employee, who was terminated for pursuing the irregularities by going up the company hierarchy and reaching out to the CEO, estimated that millions are spent each year in Microsoft on kickbacks and bribes in Africa and West Asia.
Elabd also believes that more than half the salespeople and managers working for Microsoft took part in this corruption, at least in regions he worked in. The regions where the bribes were taking place included countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
In one instance, he saw a contractor for the Saudi Ministry of Interior receive a $13 million discount on its software, a discount that never made it back to them. Qatar's Ministry of Education was paying $9.5 million for Office and Windows licenses that were never installed. Nigeria's parliament paid $5.5 million for licenses they did not possess.
It goes on, as Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health also once uncovered a $1.5 million payment for Skype licenses that were never provided. The ministry's chief information officer then demanded from Microsoft that 10,000 licenses be delivered in 72 hours. "Microsoft immediately provided new licenses before the side agreements could be exposed," the whistleblower said.
The list goes on. In total, he estimates that the total paid each year in kickbacks and bribes is worth around $200 million.
Turn your head and leave it as is
Other people were also told to leave when they questioned Microsoft's practices. Elabd himself was told by one manager “I don’t want you to be a blocker. If any of the subsidiaries in the Middle East or Africa are doing something, you have to turn your head and leave it as is. If anything happens, they will pay the price, not you.”
As he went up the company hierarchy looking to expose these practices, he met a vice president and told her what transpired, but she never scheduled a meeting after promising one. After he e-mailed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the vice president he had met with earlier said that by escalating the matter to Nadella, he had just “booked a one-way ticket out of Microsoft.”
He began to be left out of meetings and deals, and was put on a "performance improvement plan". When he refused to acknowledge that plan, he was fired in June 2018. Soon after other people provided him with documents through which he was able to ascertain the level of corruption taking place at the tech giant.
However, what is shocking to him, is that the SEC and DOJ have both declined to investigate despite him providing them with the necessary documents, so far three times, as they claimed that the pandemic is preventing them from gathering more evidence from abroad, "even though I have already provided documentation that I believe shows Microsoft is in breach of the 2019 agreement and is still participating in corrupt business practices in direct violation of U.S. law."
Elabd says that by declining to investigate these allegations and the evidence he's provided, "the SEC and DOJ have given Microsoft the green light."