There’s been some good news for telecoms giant Ericsson after four of its former executives were acquitted in Sweden early this week on charges of bribing high-ranking Djibouti officials.
The aim of the alleged bribery was, according to prosecutors, to win a 3G contract worth nearly US$20 million. As readers might guess, given that this was a 3G contract, the deal was said to have taken place more than ten years ago.
The District Court in Solna, near Stockholm City Centre, ruled that the prosecutors did not prove that the money was received by the three people alleged to have been bribed.
Prosecutors accused the executives of transferring nearly $2 million via a consulting firm to Djibouti’s president, the chancellor of justice and the CEO of a state mobile operator. The prosecutor may appeal after reviewing the verdict.
One of the four former Ericsson executives, all of whom deny any wrongdoing, is currently being prosecuted in the US for the alleged scheme.
The AFP news service points out that Ericsson has already admitted to engaging in bribery and other misconduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait from 2000 to 2016 in a billion-dollar corruption settlement with the US Justice Department. The 2019 deferred prosecution agreement, says AFP, was one of the largest foreign corruption settlements in history.
However, it’s Iraq that may yet prove the most problematic territory after an internal Ericsson investigation (reported in these pages) found serious compliance breaches in that country, breaches that included corruption among salespeople and consultants, and possible payments to terrorist organisations.
Ericsson still faces a number of investigations relating to Iraq in the US and Sweden. This story, it seems, is far from over.