Microsoft accused of being connected to $200 million in bribes each year

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What you need to know

  • Former Microsoft employee Yasser Elabd alleged that Microsoft is connected to bribes in the Middle East and Africa.
  • Elabd shared his experience on Lioness, a platform for whistleblowers.
  • In his post, he accused Microsoft of being linked to $200 million in bribes each year.

Former Microsoft employee Yasser Elabd has released allegations against Microsoft, asserting that the tech giant was connected to hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in the Middle East and Africa. Elabd worked at Microsoft for 20 years, starting in 1998. At one point, his role with Microsoft was director of public sector and emerging markets for the Middle East and Africa.

The former Microsoft employee claimed that in certain regions, as many as half of the company's salespeople and managers were involved with bribes in some capacity. Elabd estimated that Microsoft is connected to over $200 million in bribes in year in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

In his post on whistleblowing platform Lioness, Elabd recounted a $40,000 spending request that raised his suspicions. He stated that the customer receiving the payment was not on Microsoft's internal database of potential clients and that they were underqualified for the scope of the project connected to the payment. Additionally, the client was with Microsoft only four months earlier, allegedly terminated for poor performance, which should have precluded them from doing business with the company, according to Elabd.

Elabd said that he elevated the incident to his manager, human resources, and the company's legal department. The $40,000 was stopped but the incident was not looked into any further.

In Elabd's post, he alleged Microsoft's connection to the bribes and shared specific examples of seemingly questionable behavior. Discounts of more than $5.5 million were not passed to end customers in deals with two government agencies, according to Elabd. An audit report shared by Elabd shows a deal with the Saudi Ministry of the Interior in which a $13.6 million discount did not reach customers, with said savings instead going to Microsoft employees and the partners involved in the scheme.

In a separate incident, the Qatar ministry of education allegedly paid $9.5 million each year for Office and Windows licenses, but the associated programs were never installed.

"It's going on at all levels," said Yasser Elabd in an interview with The Verge. "All 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."

The Verge reached out to Microsoft for comment. The tech giant emphasized its commitment to ethical practices to the outlet.

"We are committed to doing business in a responsible way and always encourage anyone to report anything they see that may violate the law, our policies, or our ethical standards," said VP at Microsoft and deputy general counsel for compliance and ethics Becky Lenaburg to The Verge. "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."

In contrast to Microsoft's claim that the incidents in question were in the past and dealt with, Elabd stated that a manager told him to turn a blind eye to certain situations.

"I don't want you to be a blocker," a manager supposedly said to Elabd. "You have to turn your head and leave it as is."

According to Elabd, his reputation for asking questions earned criticism and led to managers and leaders leaving him out of important deals. Eventually, he was fired by Microsoft.

"They never took any legal action against these employees, even while they know they are stealing the company's money and the governments' money," said Elabd. "The hidden message to employees is 'do whatever you want, make as much money as you can, and the worst that can happen is you'll get fired.'"

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at