Swedish-Swiss ABB uncovers $100 million fraud

Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB has uncovered significant embezzlement at its South Korean subsidiary, which it warned would heavily impact its 2016 earnings.

Swedish-Swiss ABB uncovers $100 million fraud
Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO ABB Group. Photo: Walter Bieri/Keystone via AP

The company said it had discovered “a sophisticated criminal scheme related to a significant embezzlement and misappropriation of funds” at the South Korean unit.

ABB, a top player in the global electrical engineering sector, warned that the fraud would cut into the unaudited results it announced earlier this month with a pre-tax charge of about $100 million.

“ABB has initiated mitigating actions to reduce the impact of this criminal activity on its results significantly including recovery of misappropriated funds, legal claims and insurances,” the company said in a statement.

ABB said the treasurer at its South Korean subsidiary had gone missing on February 7th, and the company had subsequently discovered the individual had been “forging documentation and colluding with third parties to steal from the company”.

It said it had immediately launched a full investigation and was working with local police and Interpol to resolve the matter.

The company said it had checked and reconfirmed the balance of its global bank accounts and had determined that the embezzlement was limited to South Korea.

“ABB has a zero-tolerance approach to unethical behaviour and maintains the highest standards regarding integrity and ethical business practices,” it insisted.

ABB, which earlier this month published preliminary results indicating its 2016 net profit had inched up two percent last year to $1.9 billion, said it would now publish its annual report no later than March 16th.


‘Discount’ phone scammers steal thousands from elderly woman in Sweden

A 75-year-old woman in the Håbo municipality lost over 120,000 kronor (11,200 euros) on Friday after falling victim to a telephone scam.

'Discount' phone scammers steal thousands from elderly woman in Sweden
File photo: Anders Wiklund/ TT

The woman received a phone around lunchtime on Friday from a man who claimed he was calling from a telecommunications operator.

Following a method similar to others seen in telephone scams which target the elderly, the man is reported to have informed the woman that she had unused discounts and was required to log on to her online banking in order to activate them.

“He must have been persuasive, given that he convinced her to log on to her online bank,” Uppsala Police press spokesperson Linda Wideberg told Radio P4 Uppland, who reported the scam.

The incident is now being investigated as fraud, police said.

Other recent scams in Sweden have seen fake emails and text messages which purport to be from the Skatteverket tax authority. 

“Skatteverket will never ask for your account details via email or text message,” the tax agency said in a statement in June this year.