Implicated in several corruption scandals since the beginning of the 2010s, the Swedish telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson has always pleaded good faith. The company says it is committed to the fight against corruption, which is reflected in particular by its presence since 2012 among the hundred signatories of the anti-corruption initiative of the Davos Economic Forum. But the name of the multinational was removed from this list early April, Davos doubting the sincerity of its commitment to better business ethics, learned The world.
This exclusion is a direct consequence of the “The Ericsson List” survey, published by The world and its partners in International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Sunday, February 27. This investigation revealed suspicions of corruption and bad practices of the equipment manufacturer in a dozen countries – including Iraq, where Ericsson could have indirectly financed the terrorist group Islamic State. A case that comes after the payment by the group of a fine of more than a billion dollars (around 900 million euros) to the American justice system in 2019, already for embezzlement.
The Davos Economic Forum confirmed at the World that the decision to exclude Ericsson from its list “was taken after an internal discussion, which includes the articles that have been published in the press in recent weeks”. Sign that the company’s reputation has been tarnished by recent revelations, to the point of making its presence untenable within the anti-corruption initiative, a group of companies that position themselves as privileged interlocutors of governments and international organizations in matters anti-corruption and transparency.
Possible lawsuits against the leaders
This case also disrupted Ericsson’s general meeting of shareholders, which took place online on March 29. If the company’s leaders were reappointed there, management lost a key vote. It was a question of relieving the general manager of the equipment manufacturer, Börje Ekholm, as well as several members of the management, of their legal responsibilities on an individual basis. At least 10% of the voting rights were exercised against this resolution, paving the way for possible additional legal proceedings against the leaders of the group.
“Ericsson failed to provide the necessary transparency around the Iraqi affair. We therefore lack the information needed to make an informed choice about what went wrong, why, and who should be held responsible.”commented after this general meeting the Cevian investment fund, which owns 4.5% of the group.
Ericsson is also accused by the American courts of not having respected its obligations of transparency towards him, which could lead to new prosecutions.