Ericsson risks being ‘uninvestable’ after reports it was involved in alleged payments to ISIS terrorist group in Iraq
Ericsson shares risk becoming “uninvestable” in the foreseeable future according to Citibank analysts, after a new report detailed the Stockholm-based company’s involvement in making potential payments to terrorist organization ISIS to facilitate the sales of its goods in Iraq.
Many of the new details published on Sunday, which include information on payments likely to have been made to gain access to transport routes in Iraq, originated from an internal report commissioned by Ericsson and obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Ericsson shares slumped as much as 7.6% in Stockholm on Monday. The stock had already fallen 14.5% after its initial disclosure. The company’s sales in Iraq totaled about $1.9 billion between 2011 and 2018, according to the report.
“If the reports are confirmed true, then management’s credibility and judgment will be called into question; even if they are ultimately untrue, we think it will take some time before innocence can be proven,” Citi analysts led by Andrew Gardiner said in a note. “Either way, we expect Ericsson stock to be uninvestable for most investors for the foreseeable future.”
Ericsson takes any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously, the company said by email on Sunday. A spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the analysts’ note on Monday.
The revelations on Sunday came after Ericsson said on Feb. 16 that it had received questions from the media regarding past compliance-related matters in Iraq. Chief Executive Officer Borje Ekholm said in an interview with local media that Ericsson had identified “unusual expenses dating back to 2018” but the company hasn’t yet determined who the final recipient of the money was.
The report will also put added pressure on Ericsson after the company was accused by the U.S. Department of Justice in October of breaching a $1 billion agreement it made with prosecutors in 2019 to end a long-running corruption probe.
- As Ericsson was entering a $1 billion deferred prosecution agreement with Department of Justice to settle over corrupt practices in five countries (Kuwait, Djibouti, Vietnam, Indonesia and China), it was investigating allegations of impropriety in 14 others (U.S., Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Angola, South Africa, Libya, Egypt, Croatia, Lebanon, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bahrain).
- Ericsson’s internal report says at least 10 employees violated company ethics, including for bribery, fraud, money laundering and obstructing investigation.
- Some employees were fired, but at least one was promoted.
- The review identified 30 trucks paying $3,000 to $4,000 per load to carry Ericsson equipment across areas held by ISIS. This was allegedly to avoid a legal route with backed-up Iraqi customs checkpoints.
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