Syedur Rahman of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli commends Microsoft's efforts but says it still faces a challenge.

Microsoft has announced that it will pay US $26M to settle corruption charges involving bribery in Hungary and a number of other countries.

An executive and employees of Microsoft's Hungary office had been accused of bribing government officials in the country in order to obtain business, according to the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Microsoft Hungary received a 27.85% discount for software to be sold to Hungary's tax administration. But the person handling the account did not pass along all of the discount and used part of it to fund the bribes.

The SEC also stated that poor accounting controls may have been to blame for delays in identifying similar bribery schemes in Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Turkey; including a $440,000 "slush fund" to pay travel expenses for Saudi government employees and for gifts and other equipment for government agencies.

In an address to the company's employees, Microsoft President Brad Smith said: "We were deeply disappointed and embarrassed when we first learned about these events several years ago and we hope that all of the steps we've since taken, including this settlement, send a strong message - there is no room for compromise when it comes to ethical business practices."

This has been yet another clear warning about the damage bribery can do to a company. Microsoft is just one of many major business names to have faced bribery allegations in recent years.

But the fact that the matter is now settled shows a strong indication of change in both practices and culture regarding Microsoft's dealings. The challenge for Microsoft now is to show that the steps that it has taken have brought an end to the practices that have cost it so dearly.

Read the online guide: Bribery And Corruption - Responding To National And International Investigations.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.