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Ericsson’s Commission Payments Plan Investigated by SEC in U.S.

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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