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Microsoft says it addressed corruption allegations in Middle East, Africa

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Microsoft is accused by a whistleblower of paying bribes in the Middle East and Africa./AFP
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Mar 28, 2022 - 03:45 AM

WASHINGTON — Microsoft, accused by a former employee of paying bribes in Africa and the Middle East, said Saturday it has already probed the allegations and fired several employees as a result.

A former Microsoft employee accused the tech giant of corruption in The Wall Street Journal, and in an essay posted Friday to the website Lioness, which publishes whistleblower accounts.

The employee says he was fired after working for Microsoft from 1998 to 2018 in Africa, where he said he saw company employees involved in corrupt practices in several countries in the region.

He said the practices included using local partner companies to help sell Microsoft products.

Asked about the allegations, a Microsoft executive said Saturday, “We believe we’ve previously investigated these allegations, which are many years old, and addressed them.”

“We cooperated with government agencies to resolve any concerns,” Becky Lenaburg, vice president and deputy general counsel for compliance and ethics at Microsoft, told AFP.

Employees were fired and partnerships were ended as part of the response to the original allegations, the company said.

“We are committed to doing business in a responsible way,” Lenaburg added.

Microsoft “always encourage(s) anyone to report anything they see that may violate the law, our policies, or our ethical standards,” she said.

The Journal said the whistleblower employee also warned the US financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission), of his concerns in 2019.

In deposition documents, the employee claimed Microsoft had “engaged for many years in rampant bribery practices,” according to the Journal.

The employee estimates that Microsoft spent more than $200 million per year on bribes and kickbacks in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to news website The Verge.

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