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Friday, November 23, 2007

RPT Swedish prosecutor says no evidence Ericsson bribed Oman govt

Wednesday November 21, 04:23 PM
STOCKHOLM (Thomson Financial) - The Swedish prosecutor who investigated LM Ericsson AB's use of Swiss bank accounts in the late 1990s said he has no evidence to support allegations by Swedish Radio (SR) that the accounts were used to bribe a government official in Oman.
SR said today its investigation revealed Ericsson (Stockholm: ERICB.ST - news) paid 12 mln sek into an account used by an Omani minister. Around the same time Ericsson received a 300 mln skr order to expand the mobile network in Muscat, it said.
However, prosecutor Lage Karlstroem told Thomson Financial News that although the Swedish SR journalist's report was based on his legal records released in 2005, his files made no similar accusation, and he has no way of knowing how or why the journalist drew the conclusion he did.
'I prosecuted the system (of Swiss bank accounts), not any single payment or any individual. There was over 3.5 bln kronor involved and around 10,000 individual invoices,' said Karlstroem, 'But the radio report has to do with my investigation'.
The Swedish Economic Crimes Bureau (Ekobrottsmyndigheten) is appealing a Dec 2006 decision by the Stockholm District Court to acquit managers at Ericsson of charges of 'financial irregularity' relating to the Swiss bank accounts. The case did not include any allegation of bribery.
The appeal hearing is due on Feb 4, said Karlstroem.
He said there are no plans to open a new investigation into Ericsson following SR's report today.
'No, this story about this person in Oman is too old to investigate,' said Karlstroem noting that Sweden's statute of limitations in such cases is 5 years.

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