New evidence emerges in TeliaSonera bribery case

Jan 15, 2013
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Swedish prosecutors have filed new documents in an investigation into claims that Scandinavian mobile operator TeliaSonera paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to secure an operating license in Uzbekistan, according to Radio Free Europe.

Investigators say the documents show executives at the company tried to engage Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, in their attempt to secure the license. Karimova was once characterized in a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable as a “robber baron” and has forced her way into some of the country’s most profitable businesses.

The documents include an email written by Serkan Elder, director of TeliaSonera subsidiary Fintur Holdings, that makes multiple mention of the need to work through Karimova to secure the license, RFE reports. TeliaSonera is partially owned by the Swedish and Finnish governments and has run into criticism for its relationships with authoritarian regimes in Belarus and Azerbaijan.

The bribery allegations surfaced in September after Swedish public television SVT aired a report that TeliaSonera paid some $250 million in bribes for operating licenses in Uzbekistan. SVT followed up with a report last month that included interviews with two anonymous TeliaSonera executives who laid out how Karimova used businessman Bekhzod Akhmedov, the target of another money-laundering investigation in Switzerland, as an intermediary in the negotiations.

TeliaSonera, which is also working to expand its role in Kazakhstan’s mobile market, denied the accusations in a statement released last week, according to Reuters.

 


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Transitions Online

Transitions Online (www.tol.org) is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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