TeliaSonera deals may be linked with money laundering
The teleoperator bought a 3G licence from a firm registered in a tax haven
Would you acquire an Uzbek 3G licence from a firm registered in Gibraltar and solely owned by a 22-year-old woman who has been working in the fashion industry?
The Nordic teleoperator TeliaSonera did.
The price was SEK 2.3 billion or EUR 270 million.
Allegations related to this transaction are now being investigated in Sweden.
On Wednesday, the television programme Uppdrag granskning (”Commission to Investigate”) broadcast by Sveriges Television (SVT), reported on teleoperator TeliaSonera’s deals in 2007 and on the suspicions of bribery and money laundering relating to the transactions.
The persons interviewed in the programme claimed that the millions TeliaSonera had paid for the licence ended up in the hands of the family of the Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov as bribes.
Gayane Avakyan, the seller of the licence, is a friend of Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Islam Karimov.
According to the programme, Switzerland is conducting a major investigation into economic crime, the aim of which is to look into the operations of Takilant Limited, the firm of the licence seller, those of the daughter of the Uzbek dictator, as well as those of TeliaSonera.
Takilant is suspected for example of money laundering.
On Thursday, Lars Nyberg, CEO of TeliaSonera, denied all allegations presented in the television programme.
”It was an investment, no bribery”, Nyberg insisted in a press conference arranged by TeliaSonera in Stockholm.
”The accusations are very serious”, Nyberg noted.
According to Nyberg, TeliaSonera will clarify the allegations by the end of the current year.
Should the clarification process reveal anything criminal, he would ”most probably resign”, said Nyberg to the Swedish news agency TT.
On Thursday, the Parliament of Sweden’s Committee on Industry and Trade summoned Nyberg to a hearing related to TeliaSonera’s operations in Uzbekistan and to whether the teleoperator complies with its own code of ethics and conduct.
The largest shareholders of TeliaSonera are the Swedish State (37.3%) and the Finnish State (11.7%).
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TeliaSonera press release 19.9.2012