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China’s Tencent cracks down on corruption and fires more than 100 employees

More than ten employees have been arrested, with one reportedly sentenced to three years in prison

Tencent has revealed that it was forced to fire more than 100 employees on grounds of bribery and embezzlement in 2022.

The company also decided to stop doing business with 23 third parties in accordance with its anti-corruption measures, Nikkei Asia reported.

It's the second time a scandal like this has rocked the tech giant. The company fired more than 70 employees in 2021 for similar reasons and blacklisted 13 companies with which it previously used to conduct business.

Tencent described the corruption in 2022 as “more severe” due to the company's history with insider crime.

Out of the 100 employees fired, more than ten of them were arrested and some were sentenced to prison, including one who has been set a three-year term. 

The Chinese tech giant revealed in a WeChat post that 2021's cases included employees in charge of its news portal and some in its gaming studio. These employees allegedly took bribes or stole company property, reported the South China Morning Post.

Tencent’s founder and CEO Pony Ma raised issues around corruption in December 2022, reportedly telling employees that corruption had been discovered within the company and called it “astonishing,” according to a report from local Chinese news outlet Jiemian

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Ma revealed that Tencent had carried out more internal probes over the past year as part of an initiative to reduce costs and improve business efficiency. However, it also uncovered a large number of corruption cases.

Other big tech companies have also had to deal with claims of corruption in recent times. In March 2022, a whistleblower claimed he was fired by Microsoft after trying to raise awareness of bribes being accepted by employees at the company.

Whistleblower Yasser Elabd revealed that a Microsoft executive or salesperson would allegedly propose a side agreement with a partner and a decision-maker at an entity looking to purchase services from the company.

The decision maker would ask the tech giant for a discount, but would then pay the full fee anyway. The discount would then be shared amongst the individuals involved in the scheme, Elabd alleged.

In 2019, Microsoft also paid $25.3 million in criminal and civil fines to settle a case in Hungary where the company’s employees were accused of carrying out an operation to bribe government officials. Employees allegedly inflated software sales margins to raise money to pay off officials in the country. 

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