As previously disclosed, Ericsson has been co-operating voluntarily since 2013 with an investigation by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and, since 2015, with an investigation by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) into Ericsson’s compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the process is still ongoing. The investigation covers a period ending Q1 2017 and revealed breaches of the Company’s Code of Business Ethics and the FCPA in six countries: China, Djibouti, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
The company previously communicated that the resolution of the investigations will result in material financial and other measures. While Ericsson cannot comment in detail on the ongoing process with the U.S. authorities, the Company can with current visibility now estimate the cost and thus make a provision, which will impact the third quarter 2019 results by SEK 12 b. The provision constitutes the Company’s current estimate of expenditure related to resolving the U.S. investigations, of which the combined monetary sanctions from SEC and DOJ is estimated at USD 1 b., and the remainder pertains to other costs related to resolving the investigation. The provision will be booked as Other Operating Expenses in the income statement of Segment Emerging Business and Other.
In the course of the investigations, the Company identified breaches of its Code of Business Ethics and the FCPA. It is the Company’s assessment that the breaches are the result of several deficiencies, including a failure to react to red flags and inadequate internal controls which enabled a limited number of employees to actively circumvent internal controls for illegitimate purposes. Disciplinary measures, including terminations where appropriate, have been taken against identified individuals determined to have breached the Code of Business Ethics. Ericsson has acted to address shortcomings and is significantly enhancing its Ethics & Compliance program, to ensure that the Company is equipped to do business the right way. As the process is still ongoing, Ericsson is not able to, and will not make, any further comments.
Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, says: ”Over the last two years we have operationally turned around our company and established a strong portfolio and competitive cost structure. With today’s announcement we confront another legacy issue and take the next step in resolving it. We have to recognize that the Company has failed in the past and I can assure you that we work hard every day to build a stronger Ericsson, where ethics and compliance are cornerstones in how we conduct business. Over the past two years, we have made significant investments in our ethics and compliance program including our investigative capabilities and have taken actions against employees who have transgressed our values and standards.”
Ronnie Leten, Chairman of the Board of Directors, says: “This has been a formative process for the company. We have worked closely with the Executive Team in enhancing Ericsson’s ethics and compliance program. We are impressed by their conviction in addressing shortcomings and are confident in their ability to deliver on our strategy.”
Based on a thorough internal and external assessment of its Ethics and Compliance program, the Company has implemented significant reforms to address identified gaps and further strengthen the program. This work is still ongoing, and Ericsson will remain relentless in striving to improve and safeguard a strong ethical and compliance culture throughout the company.
In addition to the estimated costs related to resolving the investigations, Ericsson could experience reputational harm and other negative consequences as a result of these matters. For example, customers or suppliers may reconsider their relationships with the Company, or governmental and regulatory authorities in the relevant jurisdictions or elsewhere could seek to penalize the Company or place restrictions on its operations. Harm to reputation, or any resulting disruption in customer or supplier relationships, could have a material adverse impact on Ericsson’s business.