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Microsoft fired employees after allegations of bribery in the Middle East and Africa, a report says

Mar 26, 2022, 20:54 IST
Business Insider
Microsoft said it had previously investigated the allegations, according to reports.Mark Lennihan/AP
  • An ex-Microsoft employee has accused the tech giant of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • In an essay, Yasser Elabd claimed his discoveries included millions of dollars in foreign bribes.
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A former Microsoft employee accused the tech giant of turning a blind eye on employees, subcontractors, and government operators engaging in bribery.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the story.

In an essay published Friday on Lioness, an outlet that documents stories from whistleblowers, Yasser Elabd brought to light accusations of Microsoft employees using local partner companies to help sell the company's products to customers.

Microsoft told The WSJ they previously investigated these allegations, "which are many years old," and added they had terminated employees and partnerships that were part of the investigations.

In 2016, Elabd said he realized a $40,000 payment to an African client didn't seem right. With some digging, he found out it was a former Microsoft employee who had been terminated for poor performance. He wrote: "Corporate policy prohibits former employees from working as partners for six months from their departure without special approval."

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Seeking more details from management, he claimed that he encountered resistance and realized there was more to it than, and decided to look deeper into the Microsoft employees who were orchestrating fake deals.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

In the two years that followed, he said he did everything in his power to counter the bribes but believed Microsoft was not interested in stopping the payouts. He said he ultimately ended up being fired in June 2018.

In an interview and according to documents reviewed by the WSJ, Elabd had a seven-hour meeting with SEC employees in the agency's offices in Washington DC. Following the meeting, he submitted more evidence, but agency officials said the investigation couldn't go further due to the pandemic.

Elabd estimated that "a minimum of $200 million each year goes to Microsoft employees, partners, and government employees," in bribes. He continued: "Among the customers who I believe have received this money are government officials in Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia."

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Insider previously reported in 2019 on Microsoft agreeing to pay about $25.3 million, including a criminal fine, to settle US charges it made improper payments that were used to bribe government officials in Hungary and other countries.

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