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posted by janrinok on Monday March 28 2022, @01:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the kickbacks-bribes dept.

"Former" Microsoft employee, Yasser Elabd, has called out his former employer accusing it of widespread bribery and corruption in its activities against the Middle East and Africa. He claims he was dismissed for calling them out on it and alleges further that reports to the DOJ and SEC have fallen on deaf ears. After starting to scratch the surface, it appears to be a question of at least hundreds of millions of dollars.

Examining an audit of several partners conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, I discovered that when agreeing to terms of sale for a product or contract, a Microsoft executive or salesperson would propose a side agreement with the partner and the decision maker at the entity making the purchase. This decision maker on the customer side would send an email to Microsoft requesting a discount, which would be granted, but the end customer would pay the full fee anyway. The amount of the discount would then be distributed among the parties in cahoots: the Microsoft employee(s) involved in the scheme, the partner, and the decision maker at the purchasing entity—often a government official.

For instance: In three of the seven sampled transactions, discounts worth more than $5.5 million were not passed through to the end customers—in this case, two government-controlled entities. Another audit report showed a deal with the Saudi Ministry of the Interior in which a $13.6 million discount did not pass through. Further audits of deals in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia found a total of $20 million unaccounted for—and this involved only two partners out of hundreds across the region. Were an audit conducted for all of the partners using these practices, I believe the sums of money found to be stolen would be enormous. Where did these millions of dollars go?

[...] Another common practice revolved around creating fake purchase orders, which sales managers presumably used to increase their compensation. In 2017, it was suspected that one sales manager forged the signature of the Saudi National Guard's deputy minister on a fake Microsoft purchase order. I have evidence that people on Microsoft's legal, HR, and finance teams—as well as officials from the region's public sector—knew about this forgery. When the matter was investigated, the sales manager threatened to speak out about the widespread corruption he had seen at the company. I heard that Microsoft paid him to leave quickly and quietly, took no legal action against him, and did not report the forgery.

I am not the only person at Microsoft who has alleged corrupt practices. I know of five others from various departments who were terminated or pushed to resign for raising flags about inconsistencies in finances. For example, a whistleblower filed an anonymous complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging the South African Department of Defense overpaid Microsoft partner EOH Mthombo for software licenses. According to the complaint, the deal—in which middleman EOH received $8.4 million, far more than Microsoft made—was flagged to a Microsoft compliance officer, but no action was taken by the company. The whistleblower contends that this was because EOH was helping Microsoft with a $50 million contract for the South African Police Service.

Given the lack of quality and functionality across their line of products and services, bribery appears to be a common tactic to close the sale or break the competition.


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @01:53AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @01:53AM (#1232835)

    What you expect? Nadella comes from India - bribery is the norm and tradition there.

    But then Bill and Balmers weren't no angel neither. So it goes.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @01:56AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @01:56AM (#1232836)

      So revoke his H1B.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @05:24AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @05:24AM (#1232874)

      Ah yes. Satya Nadella of the "FUD" fame and "OOXML" fame. I distinctly remember India and Indians behind all the corruption in America.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @11:54AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @11:54AM (#1232901)

      What you expect? Microsoft comes from the USA - pork and grifting are the norm and tradition there.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:31PM (#1233220)
        Ah US-Indian sinergy!
  • (Score: 3, Touché) by Gaaark on Monday March 28 2022, @02:01AM (1 child)

    by Gaaark (41) on Monday March 28 2022, @02:01AM (#1232837) Journal

    The whole organization should be jailed and shut down: instead, the SEC and the courts and politicians look the other way and quietly accept the bribe.

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday March 28 2022, @02:06PM

      by Freeman (732) on Monday March 28 2022, @02:06PM (#1232936) Journal

      https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/11/30/salary/ [quoteinvestigator.com]

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

      Rather a spin on the above statement. They're not going to fix something that may be broken, when that broken thing is dumping truck loads of money in their pockets.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Monday March 28 2022, @02:24AM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Monday March 28 2022, @02:24AM (#1232846)

    If they just paired them up with the fake invoices [state.mn.us], everything would match up! Take *that* to your accounting department.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @02:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @02:37AM (#1232850)

    Well, no surprise Sherlock! Ever since the "free and fair erections" corruption has been the #1 occupation and wealth generator in SA. Ask the Gupta brothers (now hiding in Dubai) about a missing 100 billion! Ask the previous gate-guard at a holiday camp who was suddenly the manager and vanished with two new mercedes, and a pile of cash. Rinse and repeat for the past 30 years - no wonder the Rand is now US 15c where it used to be $1.50.

    As for MIcrosoft - look at Munich. Munix was a success, but a few well placed "benefits" (working ladies), a couple of 7-series BMWs and other gratuitous "cash donations" quickly ensured a return tot the Borg ship. Which makes Germany no different from S.Africa. And the USA, UK, Eu countries, Australia, NZ - name a country, all the big tech have done deals to shut up any and every investigation (before one even starts). Want a measure of their success and influence - check your govt websites and see what 'services' are linked - facefart, microshaft, go-ogle, etc.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by MIRV888 on Monday March 28 2022, @03:09AM (16 children)

    by MIRV888 (11376) on Monday March 28 2022, @03:09AM (#1232857)

    While completely unethical, it is quite commonplace the world over.
    Microsoft is way to big to actually get in trouble for it.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Monday March 28 2022, @04:07AM (13 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 28 2022, @04:07AM (#1232863) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft is way to big to actually get in trouble for it.

      Disagree. Government is too corrupt to do anything about it. So long as money flows into campaign funds, Microsoft is safe. A few bribes here and there on the side makes them safer yet. This is why no congress critter should remain in Washington for more than about 6 or 8 years. The quicker they are run into and back out of Washington, the less time they have to absorb all that corruption.

      Hog farmers don't leave a hog at the trough forever, why do we?

      --
      Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by number11 on Monday March 28 2022, @05:42AM (1 child)

        by number11 (1170) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 28 2022, @05:42AM (#1232877)

        True. Campaign finance reform (public funding of campaigns, get rid of PACs) would help, if we got over the stupid idea (promulgated by the Supreme Court) that money=free speech.

        I'm less certain about the term limit thing, though. It takes at least 4 years for electees to learn the ropes. Maybe it should be a simple job, but it's not. If you turn them over too fast, the power will devolve to the unelected staff and bureaucrats. Maybe that would be an improvement, but I dunno. The Brit TV show "Yes Minister" comes to mind (maybe that just dates me).

        Hog farmers may not leave hogs at the trough indefinitely. But we tend to retain our mechanics, doctors, plumbers, and lawyers far longer, if (in our estimation) they are doing a satisfactory job. There's too many potentially bad replacements to term limit the good ones. That being said, it's amazing (or perhaps a testament to the power of incumbancy) how some grifters keep getting re-elected. I guess it's a demonstration of the principle that half of all voters are below average, and that the geographical distribution is not uniform.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @03:29PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @03:29PM (#1232949)

          What a brilliant PR move it was, to misconstrue what the SCOTUS had to say about money and free speech, as equating the two.

          What they actually said was more like that people can spend their own money on expressing their ideas, and that this flows from a requirement to permit freedom of speech. But you don't hear so much about that. It's not as snappy.

          Not as politically useful.

          Not as truthy.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @04:28PM (9 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @04:28PM (#1232961)

        Hog farmers don't leave a hog at the trough forever, why do we?

        It's called democracy. Stuff like term limits are undemocratic. If voters want to keep voting in corrupt people, they should be allowed to.

        Any argument against doing so is an argument against democracy.

        That said democracy is overrated. Too many people practically worship democracy and believe that overthrowing a country to give it "democracy" is automagically a good thing.

        Funnily the USA has in fact issued sanctions just because they didn't like election results: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006%E2%80%932007_economic_sanctions_against_the_Palestinian_National_Authority [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday March 28 2022, @05:16PM (8 children)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 28 2022, @05:16PM (#1232972) Homepage Journal

          We don't live in a democracy. We live in a republic. Democracy doesn't work well, which is why we didn't create a democracy. A democracy is two wolves and a sheep discussing plans for dinner. The sheep always loses. The ignorant masses always vote to give themselves benefits, then wonder how in hell they might pay for them. Term limits are reasonable, and constitutional.

          --
          Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
          • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @06:09PM (7 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @06:09PM (#1232995)

            Someone needs to go back to school. Pay extra attention when they teach about the differences between the roles of government and head of state, and how they differ. Spoiler alert: the concepts "republic" and "democracy" are orthogonal, you can have non-democratic republics (like North Korea), democratic republics (like South Korea), democratic non-republics (like the United Kingdom) and non-democratic non-republics (like Qatar).

            But don't take my word for it, read Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

            Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected persons represent a group of people [..] for example, [..] the United States (a federal presidential republic)

            • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday March 28 2022, @06:30PM (6 children)

              by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 28 2022, @06:30PM (#1233000) Homepage Journal

              A lady asked Dr. Franklin, ‘well, Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy?’ ‘A republic,’ replied the Doctor, ‘if you can keep it.’

              Or, so the story goes.

              --
              Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:07AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:07AM (#1233107)

                Lol you are so tiresome

              • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @04:43AM (4 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @04:43AM (#1233140)

                Note that word democracy doesn't appear in that quote at all. Nor any variations of the word. The USA is a democratic republic, a republic where the people vote for their lawmakers (mostly). That is different from a direct democracy where the people vote directly for the laws, but it's still a democracy. Though some states do have a bit of direct democracy with an initiative system, like California.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @04:57AM (3 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @04:57AM (#1233145)

                  So close to being correct - but the US is still not a democracy. It's a republic, with some democratic values - when it feels like it. When the US doesn't feel like it, then we go about destroying democracies, for fun and profit.

                  How many American got to vote on Operation Ajax? Did you get a vote on Vietnam? Iraq? Afghanistan? Do you get a vote on the situation in Ukraine? The people in Washington don't give a fuck what you think, until election time. Then they do a lot of "pivoting", "walking back", just plain lying, and spreading bullshit far and wide.

                  • (Score: 0, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @08:00AM (2 children)

                    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @08:00AM (#1233160)

                    You got to vote for the representatives, didn't you? That's democracy. Representative democracy isn't direct democracy, but it's still democracy. If you don't like the way your representative votes, then vote for someone else. If you don't like any of the candidates, run yourself.

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:37PM (1 child)

                      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:37PM (#1233223)

                      Then China is a democracy too? Just has one major party (instead of two or three like other countries) ;)

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_China [wikipedia.org]

                      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @07:51PM

                        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @07:51PM (#1233323)

                        It seems to have democratic elements. I wouldn't really classify it as a democracy, since only local representatives are elected by the people. The ability to run for office seems a bit limited too, though not completely restricted to CCP members.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @04:36AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @04:36AM (#1233139)

        This is why no congress critter should remain in Washington for more than about 6 or 8 years.

        California has this at the state level. As I understand it, the main effect is for all the laws to be written by lobbyists, since the state reps aren't around long enough to learn anything and are desperate to attach their name to some big famous law so they can move on to another elected position, or into a lobbying firm. After all, anyone in a temp job has to consider what to do next, right?

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @06:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @06:15AM (#1232881)

      They won’t get into real financial trouble, but they will have to fire the involved employees and have the lowliest peons go through anti bribery education. This is what I saw happen in the companies I worked for.

      Some of this is actually established procedure. In the defense industry, ATMs deals are bundled with unrelated “offsets”.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by driverless on Monday March 28 2022, @10:18AM

      by driverless (4770) on Monday March 28 2022, @10:18AM (#1232892)

      Not just that, in many parts of the world, for example the Middle East and Africa, it's a standard part of doing business. The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act even formally recognises this in allowing grease payments. So if these were grease payments then they're perfectly legal, only if it was bribery is it a problem. And that's for a court to decide.

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @04:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @04:12AM (#1232864)

    Tell me about how all of those sleazy incels will never get laid, tell me all how much they hate women and how their sexual frustration has lead them to bribery. Tell me about their conspiracy to keep white women from having sufficient lebensraum. Tell me about the plots in their sick, twisted, sexually unsatisfied minds to stab white women in the back. Probably they are Russiacels.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Monday March 28 2022, @12:04PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday March 28 2022, @12:04PM (#1232904) Journal

    Will there be a moment in which we admit to ourselves that none of us lives under the rule of law or in democracies anymore?

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2) by jimtheowl on Monday March 28 2022, @12:37PM

    by jimtheowl (5929) on Monday March 28 2022, @12:37PM (#1232910)
    Lessons learned from Miniscribe, although they have the budget to take care of people higher up.

    Software also lends itself to fake inventory a lot easier than physical inventory (ie: packaging bricks instead of hard drives).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MiniScribe [wikipedia.org]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWwzQyXAvXI [youtube.com]
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @11:15PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28 2022, @11:15PM (#1233067)

    (I work for Microsoft.)

    If true, this would seriously piss me off. I cannot count the hours of ethical sales practices training I've sat through that explicitly describe this as unacceptable, and that's in addition to mandatory annual FCPA training. I'm not even remotely close to a sales role and I have to sit through it. Somebody is going to jail.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2022, @01:01PM (#1233218)

      Somebody is going to jail.

      That just might be you. You aren't a sales person, but sat through all those training sessions. You should've known better. I'm sorry and good luck to you. Don't drop the soap.

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