A former Microsoft employee claims that the software giant paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes over the years and continues to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
“In my estimation, a minimum of $200 million each year goes to Microsoft employees, partners, and government employees,” Yasser Elabd writes on Lioness. “Experience leads me to believe that 60–70 percent of the company’s salespeople and managers in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Europe are receiving these payments. Among the customers who I believe have received this money are government officials in Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.”
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has been accused of this crime: as Elabd notes, Microsoft in 2019 paid a $25.3 million fine as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with bribery and kickback schemes in Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Turkey.
At that time, Microsoft president Brad Smith said that he hoped the firm would never have to share that kind of news again. But it has happened again, and repeatedly. Indeed, the company is still working with the Hungarian contractor that was at the heart of that 2019 settlement, Elabd claims.
“The SEC and DOJ have both declined to investigate Microsoft over the same types of bribes in the Middle East and Africa,” Elabd explains. “They acknowledged my evidence (which I submitted three times) yet did not take up the case, claiming that the current pandemic has prevented them from gathering more evidence from abroad—even though I have already provided documentation that I believe shows Microsoft is in breach of the 2019 agreement and is still participating in corrupt business practices in direct violation of U.S. law.”