Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) today announced that it has reached a resolution with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding non-criminal breaches of its 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). Under the agreement, and as provided for by the DPA, LM Ericsson will enter a guilty plea regarding previously deferred charges relating to conduct prior to 2017. In addition, Ericsson will pay a fine of $206,728,848. The entry of the plea agreement will bring the 2019 DPA to an end.
In 2019, Ericsson entered into the DPA to resolve previously disclosed Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations relating to conduct in several countries between 2010 and 2016. Since the start of the DPA, the DOJ has not alleged or charged Ericsson with any new criminal misconduct, and no new illegal conduct has been alleged or charged today. As previously announced in October 2021 and March 2022, however, the DOJ notified Ericsson that it had failed to provide documents and information to the DOJ in a timely manner and had not adequately reported to the DOJ information relating to a 2019 Iraq-related internal investigation.
Under the DPA, the DOJ has the sole discretion to determine that the Company has breached its obligations, and if it makes this determination, it has the ability to prosecute the Company for the past misconduct covered under the DPA. As a result, the Company has entered a guilty plea for the FCPA violations to which it previously admitted as part of the DPA. The Company is not adjusting the long-term financial targets it has given, as it does not expect any material deviations from these.
Börje Ekholm, CEO of Ericsson, commented, “Taking this step today means that the matter of the breaches is now resolved. This allows us to focus on executing our strategy while driving continued cultural change across the company with integrity at the center of everything we do. This resolution is a stark reminder of the historical misconduct that led to the DPA. We have learned from that and we are on an important journey to transform our culture. To be a true industry leader, we must be a market and technology leader while also being a leader in how we conduct our business. The Ericsson Executive Team and I remain committed to this transformation and we continue to implement stringent controls and improved governance, ethics and compliance across our company, with corresponding enhancements to our risk management approach. The change continues and we are a very different company today and have made important changes since 2017 and over 2022.”
Ronnie Leten, Chairman of the Board of Directors, further commented, “Since 2017, under the strong leadership of Börje Ekholm, the Company has substantially improved its approach to risk management and compliance, including an overhaul of its Anti-Corruption Program to prevent and detect problematic conduct. The Board continues its active oversight, and with our full support, Börje and his leadership team will continue to embed these changes into the governance and culture of the Company.”
With respect to the historical conduct in Iraq, the Company continues to thoroughly investigate the facts in full cooperation with the DOJ and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As previously disclosed, the Company’s 2019 investigation did not conclude that Ericsson made or was responsible for any payments to any terrorist organization; and the Company’s significant further investigation over the course of 2022 has not altered this conclusion.
Commenting on the Company in the agreement, the DOJ noted: “[Ericsson] has significantly enhanced its compliance program and internal accounting controls through structural and leadership changes, including but not limited to the hiring of a new Chief Legal Officer and new Head of Corporate and Government Investigations and the establishment of a multi-disciplinary Business Risk Committee comprised of Group-level senior executives … and has committed to continuing to implement and test further enhancements.” Further, “[Ericsson] has significantly enhanced its cooperation and information sharing efforts.”