back to article Ericsson admits it may have paid off ISIS terrorists

"Unusual expense claims in Iraq, dating back to 2018" triggered a review that led Ericsson to suspect it paid the self-styled terrorist group Islamic State while doing business in the country, the Swedish giant said last night. Ericsson's statement comes a day after CEO Börje Ekholm gave an interview to Swedish newspaper …

  1. b0llchit Silver badge

    The cost of doing business

    Surely, this is no exception. Is there any doubt about corruption in any of these corporations?

    The Nordic countries may be high on the non-corrupt list in their countries, but that does not necessarily cover business abroad. Different country, different customs. Many places you cannot do infrastructure work without "secondary costs". We may not like it and we may be against it, but that would ultimately mean no business deal. Money talks, plain and simple.

    If we were absolutely serious about corruption, then we'd also be serious about closing all tax loopholes and the like.

  2. Peter D

    These things happen

    Having worked in a couple of hotspots myself I know that paying local thugs is not uncommon. Ideally, I'd prefer that the likes of ISIS go unrewarded but if the alternative to paying is staff being kidnapped or murdered I understand why it happens.

    1. Valeyard

      Re: These things happen

      The alternative is not putting your staff into a war zone for profit

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These things happen

        "The alternative is not putting your staff into a war zone for profit"

        Easy to say and great in theory, but the "war zone" comes to you. Also, from everything I've read, it sounds like Ericsson used mercs. "monetary donation without a clear beneficiary". Can't see the beneficiary because of that little merc. layer for plausible deniability. Guess who will be interviewing the mercs.? As usual, nobody.

        Government troop: "Hey we can't cross this line because ISIS/U.N./blah says we can't!"

        Same troop's superior:: "Go get the mercs."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These things happen

        > The alternative is not putting your staff into a war zone for profit

        That is exactly what the CEO of the multinational I used to work for at one time said, without a hint of hesitation. That man was a true leader and made me feel very proud of working for him.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: These things happen

      "...staff being kidnapped or murdered I understand..."

      Undoubtedly correct, but sometimes it's nothing like that and simply a payment for "secure delivery". It's in that where you have to wonder. If it's _not_ about murder/kidnapping and is the simplest case of "good business"? Not sure if we'll ever know which it is though.

      To flat out derail this: What if ISIS was paid without them threatening people? Then ISIS made good on their agreements... which is something Facebook can't do.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Whether you call it backsheesh or protection money or just greasing palms, bribery is endemic throughout the world.

    The only difference in Western countries is that it's more sophisticated - things like contributions to politicians and their charities or building facilities in a politician's district [for the later see the United Launch Alliance].

    1. claimed

      Re: Baksheesh

      If you call paying for decorators to do up a politicians flat 'sophisticated'...

      1. Allan George Dyer

        Re: Baksheesh

        I'm sure the wallpaper designs and paint colours were very 'sophisticated'; fuchsia is obviously a more expensive colour than pink.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IIRC Ericsson has had a tendency to allow local reps to "do business the local way", and gotten caught at it. Either more prevalent than other or more inept at covering it up...

    That said Sweden has long had as low level (but possibly increasing) problem with the corruption pattern of some government official making a deal with a company, and soon thereafter quitting to get a nice job at the same company[1]. With NPM oozing into all aspects of government services (schools, care, etc) there is a pattern of current politicians making deals with companies either owned by or employing ex-politicians in leading roles. I *think* the classic brown envelope style of corruption is quite uncommon, and as a private citizen I would never expect to be able to e.g. "pay the fine in cash right here" if caught speeding. The problem is that once all the regular folks and low level officials see the higher ups do their kind of corruption, the temptation to start taking bribes increases.

    [1] $BUILDER gets the contract to build something for the county, and the official in charge of infrastructure changes jobs a year or two later, to a nice post at $BUILDER... Also "you get the contract to build X/get to purchase the land you want from the county for a good price, and in return you sponsor the football team I happen to chair in my free time".

  5. Cuddles

    How completely?

    "revealing the existence of a "previously completely unknown internal investigation"

    Presumably someone knew about it, since it would be difficult to conduct an investigation without knowing you're doing so. So it was not, in fact, completely unknown.

  6. Helcat Bronze badge

    Not sure why Isis would need terrorists: She's generally seen as a Good goddess: Protection, Magic, motherhood - got a bit diverse over the years, really.

    Still, nice to see Ericsson funding her temples.

    Eh? Wrong Isis? Oh... Daesh. Islamic State.

    Please don't call them Isis: It's insulting to the Goddess. Not that Daesh care: They probably encouraged it considering they don't want there to be any other religion other than their own in the world. Just call them SHIT (Shiite Hating Islamic Terrorists) instead (they're mostly Sunni). That's more fitting.

    1. fxkeh

      ISIS was always a western abbrievation for Islamic Static in Iraq and Syria (one of many names they were called at some point - also see ISIL for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) rather than an abbreviation they gave themselves. It's an abbrievation using English words for a start (Islamic state being considerably more pro-Arabic language than pro-English language).

      Anyway, I read at the time that abbrievations are thought to be pretty insulting by them in any case and even Daesh is mainly a name used by their enemies as a slur.

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