Ericsson has revealed details of an investigation into the conduct of its employees in Iraq during the US and UK invasion of the country. 

It comes after an Al Jazeera report earlier this month which accused the Swiss telecoms giant of bribing members of the terrorist group ISIS to get ahead in the war-torn Iraq.

A document leak from Ericsson’s internal investigations has found that the firm put its contractors at risk of kidnap by militants.

The International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) which received the documents, shared them with media partners, the BBC, Guardian and the Washington Post. 

The papers, which run to more than a hundred pages, detail a number of alleged financial misconducts in the way of inflated invoices – as well as around £28 million of ‘suspicious’ payments in Iraq. 

Abandoned employees to ISIS

The company has been accused of abandoning its employees in Iraq after senior managers  insisted offices in Mosul could not be closed in 2014 – despite it being taken over by ISIS – as it would ‘destroy’ the business, according to the leaked documents.

The BBC reports this decision put contractors’ lives at risk because the move allowed ISIS militants to take a number of workers hostage.

Ericsson is also accused of possible bribes to ISIS, which allowed the company’s vehicles to use a faster transport route through Iraq which passed through ISIS territory but avoided government checkpoints. 

Ericsson statement

According to its Ericsson’s statement, its investigating team “identified payments to intermediaries and the use of alternate transport routes in connection with circumventing Iraqi Customs, at a time when terrorist organizations, including ISIS, controlled some transport routes. Investigators could not determine the ultimate recipients of these payments. Payment schemes and cash transactions that potentially created the risk of money laundering were also identified.”  

Ericsson also said its investigations could “not identify that any Ericsson employee was directly involved in financing terrorist organizations”, but added that several employees were ‘exited’ from the company as well as other disciplinary actions.

In 2019, Ericsson made history with one of the largest foreign corruption settlements. It publicly admitted to breaches of corruption in five countries over 17 years and made a £750 million settlement deal with the US Department of Justice. 

It is unclear whether Ericsson has ever disclosed these most recent revelations to the US Department of Justice.

But, CEO of Ericsson Börje Ekholm told Reuters: “We are under the DPA with the US authorities which limits our ability to comment on what is disclosed or not disclosed.”