May 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has started an investigation into Ericsson AB’s payment system used to win contracts in the 1990s, including orders in Romania.
Ericsson got a request for information in March after media reports on its system for paying trade agents in Romania in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Fredrik Hallstan, a spokesman for Ericsson, said today. The request related to three former employees who are suspected to have embezzled almost 150 million kronor ($23 million) while they had access to cash meant for paying contacts with access to local telecommunications carriers, he said. Ericsson no longer uses such third-party agents.
Ericsson is cooperating with the U.S. and is providing the information requested, Hallstan said in a phone interview.
“This isn’t about corruption, it’s about these three guys,” who are alleged to have embezzled money from Stockholm-based Ericsson, Hallstan said, without identifying the people.
Ericsson shares slipped 1.3 percent to 78.35 kronor at 11:29 a.m. in Stockholm, declining for the fourth day. That pared the advance to 20 percent this year.
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