Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) today announced the resolution of the previously disclosed investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the Company’s compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). While the DOJ and SEC conduct separate investigations, the same facts have been shared by Ericsson with both authorities.
The resolution relates to historical FCPA breaches ending Q1 2017. While the Company had a compliance program and a supporting control framework, they were not adequately implemented. Specifically, certain employees in some markets, some of whom were executives in those markets, acted in bad faith and knowingly failed to implement sufficient controls. They were able to enter into transactions for illegitimate purposes and, together with people under their influence, used sophisticated schemes in order to hide their wrongdoing.
The resolution marks the end of the FCPA-related investigations into Ericsson and its subsidiaries undertaken by the DOJ and the SEC.
The DOJ proceeding is a criminal enforcement action and the SEC proceeding is a civil enforcement action. The agencies resolve their investigation independently of one another using their own discretion and applying different standards of proof. As a result, the DOJ and SEC have come to different conclusions based on the same facts.
Ericsson has agreed to enter into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the DOJ to resolve criminal charges relating to violation of bribery provision of the FCPA in Djibouti. The DPA also resolves criminal charges relating to violations of the accounting provisions of the FCPA in China, Djibouti, Indonesia, Kuwait, and Vietnam. In connection with the matter in Djibouti, Ericsson's Egyptian subsidiary pled guilty to bribery today. As part of the resolution Ericsson will pay a fine of USD 520,650,432.
Ericsson has agreed with the SEC to the entry of a judgment to resolve claims related to allegations of violations of the accounting provisions of the FCPA in China, Djibouti, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam and of the bribery provisions of the FCPA in Djibouti, China and Saudi Arabia. As part of the resolution, Ericsson will pay financial sanction of USD 458,380,000, plus pre-judgement interest of USD 81,540,000.
In parallel to the investigations, the Company has since 2016, together with external expert advisors, conducted a comprehensive review of the Company’s anti-corruption program. Based on this review, Ericsson has been taking significant steps to improve its Ethics and Compliance program.
Pursuant to the resolutions, Ericsson has agreed to continue enhancing its internal controls and its compliance program.
Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, says: “I am upset by these past failings. Reaching a resolution with the US authorities allows us to close this legacy chapter. We can now move forward and build a stronger company.
The settlement with the SEC and DOJ shows that we have not always met our standards in doing business the right way. This episode shows the importance of fact-based decision making and a culture that supports speaking up and confronting issues. We have worked tirelessly to implement a robust compliance program. This work will never stop.”
Ronnie Leten, Chair of the Board of Directors, says: “Ultimately we can only be successful if we have an entrenched ethics and compliance culture. I am confident that with the significant steps already undertaken we are better equipped to execute on our strategy without compromising on our values.”