Sweden clears Ericsson employees of Djibouti corruption charges

A Swedish court on Tuesday acquitted four former employees of telecom network giant Ericsson on corruption charges in connection with a contract in Djibouti.

Sweden clears Ericsson employees of Djibouti corruption charges
File photo of Ericsson's CEO Börje Ekholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The charges related to alleged bribes paid to three people in the Republic of Djibouti over the period 2011-2012 for Ericsson AB to supply Djibouti Telecom SA telecoms equipment in the country.

“The prosecution has failed to prove that two of the three alleged recipients of bribes or irregular rewards fell within the limited scope of corruptible persons defined by the legislation in force at the time,” the Solna District Court said in a statement.

“With regards to the third beneficiary, the prosecution has failed to prove that any bribes or undue payments were made to them,” the court added.

According to the court, for the charges to be upheld “the bribe or reward must be related to the recipient’s performance of his or her work or duties in such a way that he or she was able to exert influence in a way that promoted the donor’s interests”.

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 has said it expects to pay further fines related to corruption uncovered in Iraq.

In April, the Swedish judiciary had also announced the opening of an investigation into possible corruption involving the Swedish telecom giant concerning possible bribes to members of the Islamic State group in Iraq.

The network equipment maker’s chief executive Börje Ekholm acknowledged 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.

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SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

More than 3,700 flights where cancelled and 380,000 passengers where affected by the 15-day strike which hit Scandinavia's SAS airline last month, the company has revealed.

SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

“We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected by the July strike,” Anko van der Werff, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We are happy operations returned to normality again allowing us to start regaining our customers’ trust.”

According to the release, 1.3 million passengers travelled with the airline in July, which was still a 23 percent increase on the same month last year, when Covid-19 restrictions were still reducing tourism levels.

“In comparison with last month, the total number of passengers decreased with 32 percent and capacity was decreased by 23 percent, which was a result from the 15-day pilot strike,” the release read. 

Pilot unions in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, went on strike for 15 days last month over pay, conditions, and the company’s refusal to rehire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic on the same terms as before. 

The strike, which cost the airline between €9m and €12m a day, was ended on July 19th, after which it took several days to get flights back to normal

Van der Werff said company said it would now continue putting in place its restructuring plan, SAS FORWARD, and push ahead with restructuring in the US, where the company has filed for Chapter 11. 

He said these would both “accelerate the transformation process that will lead to a financially stable airline, that will be able to deliver the service our customers are expecting”.