Swedish telecoms company Ericsson is being sued by hundreds of Americans who were the victims of terrorist attacks and hostage takings from 2005 to 2021, as well as the families of those killed by such attacks.
The lawsuit focuses on allegations earlier this year that Ericsson paid ISIS and al Qaeda to travel through territory controlled by the terror groups.
528 US service men and women, as well as civilians, brought their claims under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990, which allows victims to seek restitution from those that aid and abet terrorism.
Plaintiffs claim that Ericsson knowingly supported a terrorist campaign that attacked, killed, and wounded thousands of Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, by aiding the terrorists through regular protection payments to terrorists, and Ericsson’s intentional obstruction of United States counterterrorism policy.
“Plaintiffs say while Americans were risking their lives between 2005 and 2021 to help rebuild Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, LM Ericsson and Ericsson Inc. facilitated illicit Iraq-related transactions that they knew terrorists such as ISIS used to finance attacks against Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria,” said Ryan Sparacino, the Founding Partner of Sparacino PLLC, the law firm pursuing the case.
“As alleged, even though the terrorists openly proclaimed their desire for protection money to help fund their campaign to kill Americans in the Middle East and the US government publicly opposed illicit transactions that flowed protection money to terrorists, Ericsson defied the United States – and its obligations under the Anti-Terrorism Act – in pursuit of profit."
In March, it was revealed that Ericsson paid ISIS to allow it to operate and travel through land controlled by the terrorist group, and that some contractors were kidnapped.
An internal Ericsson report - which was not fully disclosed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) despite a previous $1bn bribery settlement - also found possible bribery, money laundering and embezzlement by employees in Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brazil, China, Croatia, Libya, Morocco, the United States, and South Africa.
The DoJ said that the telco broke the terms of its 2019 settlement, and was investigating the company. Shareholders have also launched a lawsuit against Ericsson, CEO Borje Ekholm, and CFO Carl Mellander.
Sparacino added that "the US Department of Justice must make an example out of the company and any person who supported the corruption scheme.”
Ericsson said it would “zealously defend against” the suit. “Any effort to connect Ericsson to the actions described in the complaint will fail on the merits,” a spokesperson continued.
However, the company has admitted that the leaked document showing bribes in Iraq is real.