Sweden opens criminal probe into Ericsson over Iraq corruption claims

Swedish prosecutors said on Wednesday they had opened up an investigation into cases of corruption involving telecoms giant Ericsson in Iraq, including suspected bribes to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Sweden opens criminal probe into Ericsson over Iraq corruption claims
File photo of Ericsson's CEO Börje Ekholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Senior Public Prosecutor Leif Görts confirmed that the investigation had been launched following reports of potential corruption between 2011 and 2019.

“We have reason to believe that crimes of corruption may have been committed in Iraq during this time period and therefore deemed it necessary to open a preliminary investigation,” Görts told AFP, stressing it was still in its “early stages.”

The network equipment maker’s chief executive Börje Ekholm conceded in a newspaper interview in February that some Ericsson employees may have bribed IS members for road transport through areas controlled by the group in Iraq.

The admission was made before the publication of a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealing that an internal Ericsson investigation from 2019 was never made public.

The internal probe had identified possible corruption between 2011 and 2019 in the group’s Iraqi operations.

Ericsson has already agreed to pay $1 billion in penalties to US authorities to close corruption cases in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait in 2019, and said last week that it expected it would have to pay more fines over the Iraq case.

At Ericsson’s annual meeting in late March, shareholders voted against discharging Ekholm and the board from liabilities, a normally routine decision. Both Ekholm and board members were nonetheless re-elected to their positions.

The Swedish firm’s shares have lost over a quarter of their value since mid-February.

Member comments

  1. I remember those days (2008-2017) when I was employed in Ericsson as an R&D Eng. and I had to go through a bunch of courses on Morale/Ethics dictated (or orchestrated) by the Ericsson Leadership team. It seems that the Ericsson leadership does not believe in the basic tenet of business Ethics/morale while discharging their duties otherwise we would not have seen so many corruption cases against the top brats. I would suggest the Ericsson Leaders to divert their focus from R&D engineers to top brats of the company as far as rendering those courses is concerned. This will save lots of working hours and resentment on the lower level of the company. Those who are discharging their duties holding vulnerable positions where morale or ethics could be compromised, should go through not only necessary courses but also psychological evaluation every now and then.

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SAS pilot unions delay strike for three days of extra talks

Sweden’s pilot union has agreed to postpone the strike planned for Wednesday by three days in the hope of striking a last minute deal with the SAS airline.

SAS pilot unions delay strike for three days of extra talks

The strike, due to start on June 29th, has been pushed forward until just after midnight on July 1st, to provide time for extra negotiations with the Scandinavian airline’s management over a new collective bargaining agreement. 

After weeks with intensive negotiations over a new agreement between SAS leadership and 1,000 of the airline’s pilots, both sides are now willing to continue discussions, pushing back the deadline by three days. 

“SAS and the Norwegian pilot union are in agreement that we will continue negotiations for three days,” Norwegian national mediator Mats Wilhelm Ruland said. “There’s been intensive work towards finding a solution.”

Karin Nyman, Swedish press officer for SAS, said that the company was glad to have been given more time.

“It means above everything else that our customers will be able to travel over the next few days,” she told Swedish newswire TT.

Martin Lindgren, chairman of the Swedish SAS branch of the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association (SPF), would not comment on the content of the negotiations, but said that it was worth continuing to try and reach an agreement.

“We feel a great responsibility towards both SAS and our members, but above all towards our passengers,” he said in a press statement.

“Although we have gone to great lengths to come to an agreement, many issues remain unsolved. The strike can only be avoided if SAS show a real will to meet us. As of now, we’re choosing to give the other side yet another chance to do that.”

The airline’s Danish press officer, Alexandra Kaoukji, wrote in a statement to Danish newswire Ritzau that mediators believe “there is a possibility of reaching consensus” on a new agreement between the airline and pilots.

“The new 72-hour deadline means that our passengers will be able to travel,” she told the newswire. “We’re very happy about that. Our hope is therefore that we can find a solution and that passengers will not be affected.”

Nyman was also hopeful that both sides would be able to come to an agreement without resorting to strike action.

“We can only state that we’ve had constructive talks in recent days in our negotiations, and obviously the mediators have then made the assessment that there is a chance of reaching an agreement,” she said.

Pilots are unhappy that SAS is hiring new pilots on cheaper contracts in their two subsidiaries, SAS Link and SAS Connect. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, up to 30,000 SAS passengers could be affected per day, the airline said on June 27th.