Accusations of bribery in Microsoft’s business investments surface

Kip Kniskern

Microsoft logo and name at conference

A former Microsoft employee, who lost his job in 2018, has come forward to accuse the company of incidents of bribery in its foreign business investments, according to a post at The Verge. The former employee, Yasser Elabd, a director of emerging markets for the Middle East and Africa, describes a $40,000 payment he flagged as suspicious, and says he saw many incidents of suspicious activity:

Sometimes, as in the African case, they were suspicious requests from the business investment fund. In another instance, he saw a contractor for the Saudi interior ministry receive a $13 million discount on its software — but the discount never made it back to the end customer. In another case, Qatar’s ministry of education was paying $9.5 million a year for Office and Windows licenses that were never installed. One way or another, money would end up leaking out of the contracting process, most likely split between the government, the subcontractor, and any Microsoft employees in on the deal.

Microsoft says its committed to “doing business in a responsible way,” Becky Lenaburg, deputy counsel for compliance and ethics at Microsoft told The Verge. Calling the accusations “many years old,” Lenaburg said that the allegations have been addressed.

Corporate bribery, especially with foreign countries with mid-level bureaucrats acting as intermediaries and seeing bribery as just “a cost of doing business,” is a trillion dollar problem, reaching far beyond Microsoft, but while Microsoft says they have dealt with the problem, Elabd told The Verge that “(a)ll the executives are aware of it, and they’re promoting the bad people. If you’re doing the right thing, they won’t promote you.”