• Sweden edition
 
TeliaSonera under fire over Uzbek bribe claims

TeliaSonera under fire over Uzbek bribe claims

Published: 20 Sep 2012 10:05 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Sep 2012 10:05 GMT+02:00

TeliaSonera head Lars Nyberg said that the accusations were severe, but that he welcomed an investigation of the company.

“It’s extremely serious when Sveriges Television accuses the country’s biggest company of bribery and corruption,” he told Sveriges Radio (SR) on Thursday.

When asked how he would react if the information about the money laundering proved to be true, Nyberg responded: “I’d resign, I suppose”.

Nyberg’s comments came on the heels of claims made by Sveriges Television (SVT) investigative news programme "Uppdrag Gränskning" about how TeliaSonera secured contracts in Uzbekistan.

The company was awarded contracts worth billions of kronor to provide mobile telephone services in Uzbekistan.

However, the funds paid by the company in exchange for the contracts were funneled through a woman with close ties to the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, according to SVT.

The woman, named as Gayane Avakyan, is tied to the Gibraltar-based company Takilant, which served as TeliaSonera's local partner when the Nordic telecom firm established operations in Uzbekistan six years ago.

Takilant received around 2.2 billion kronor ($337 million) for 3G licenses, according to SVT.

But in the public records of Takilant's accounting, there is no trace of TeliaSonera's payments in either money or stock.

SVT pointed to strong connections between Avakyan and Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

Meanwhile, Switzerland has blocked bank accounts containing several hundreds of millions of dollars in the probe, money which is believed to belong to Karimov's regime.

According to TeliaSonera, paying out large amounts of money to a small, private company in a tax haven was completely normal when conducting business in Uzbekistan.

“We’ve paid money to a company that was the rightful owner of frequencies and licenses in Uzbekistan that we needed for telecom operations in the country,” said head of communications Cecilia Edström to SVT.

“We have looked into whether the person who represented the company had a mandate to do so and in addition we have not been able to prove if there were any other people behind it or who they were.”

She could not give a direct answer as to whether TeliaSonera had bribed Gulnara Karimova and the Uzbek regime. But Tom von Weymarn, former chairman of the company, answered “absolutely not.”

“TeliaSonera did not make a transaction with Karimova or the regime, but with a company,” said Edström.

“The company was properly registered, Dutch lawyers made an investigation into the risk for money laundering and Avakyan had a mandate to represent the company.”

Edström concedes that there was a risk that other people were behind the company that could have gotten a portion of the money.

“But it was nothing we could prove when we did this transaction,” she said

TeliaSonera denies that the company was the subject of a Swiss money laundering investigation.

“We’ve not been contacted at all by police or any other authorities concerning a Swiss crime investigation,” Edström said.

TeliaSonera also claimed Wednesday that the figure paid by the company was 200 million kronor and not two billion.

In a press conference on Thursday, CEO Nyberg characterized the payments as "an investment" rather than a bribe.

“I am convinced that TeliaSonera has not bribed anyone, or taken part in any money laundering,” he said.

Nyberg added that the company would nevertheless launch an external investigation into its dealings in Uzbekistan.

TT/The Local/og

Follow The Local on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

11:28 September 20, 2012 by RobinHood
According to Transparency International's corruption index, Uzbekistan is the joint fifth most corrupt country in the entire world. Is there a single Swedish company or person that does business in Uzbekistan, or even a single Swedish visitor to Uzbekistan, that has not paid a bribe to someone there? I doubt it.

Somehow TeliaSonera will have to find a way out of Uzbekistan clutching what's left of its integrity. Swedish business ethics and the realities of doing business in Uzbekistan are incompatible. TeliaSonera should have known that from the beginning. That's where poor Mr Nyberg went wrong; he'll have to go if it's true.
13:25 September 20, 2012 by Abe L
This is how like the 10th posting on this subject, just a different country. When do people realise that this is how you do business in such countries. It is in everyone's best interest if TeliaSonera is doing well, they provide a fair amount of jobs and pay a lot of tax. Stop slamming such companies when they expand aboard but instead encourage it!
07:03 September 21, 2012 by Uncle
Spot on Abe.

IMHO, What the moronic legislation in Sweden wants is to accept flows of uneducated asylum seekers, but it forbids the companies to actually try and raise the economies of these corrupt dictatorships, so they would have something to lose if they engage in wars or risk revolution.

At the same time these ethical committees whine about cooperation with Saudis, who are not corrupt. In effect, they are trying to block Swedish trade in the developing world to 100%.

What the need to understand is that there is no other way in a poor dictatorship to conduct business by definition. So it is whether bribing, or letting these countries continue to live on cocain trade and have 60% unemployment rate that breeds Islamism and hence intolerance, women oppression, gay execution and constant warring.
Today's headlines
Pirate Bay
Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison
A 2013 image of Svartholm Warg. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison

Swedish "hactivist" Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for hacking crimes. READ  

Royal family
Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback
Princess Madeleine at a previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback

Sweden's Princess Madeleine is scheduled to appear at the Nobel Festival in Stockholm in December, after taking time out from her royal duties to focus on looking after her daughter. READ  

Politics
'We knew that Israel would be critical'
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (left), with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

'We knew that Israel would be critical'

Sweden's Foreign Minister has told The Local she respects Israel's decision to recall its ambassador after Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, and laughed off comments about IKEA furniture made by her Israeli counterpart. READ  

Analysis
'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'
Doctors say we should make the most of the autumn sunshine. Photo: Shutterstock

'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'

Spending time outdoors this autumn will help you survive a cold, dark Swedish winter. Baba Pendse, Head of Psychiatry at Lund University shares his top tips for battling the seasonal blues with The Local. READ  

Sports
Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid
Skiers hit the slopes in Åre, western Sweden. Photo: TT

Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid

Norwegian sports officials have said they want to co-host the winter Olympics with Sweden in 2026. But there has so far been no official response from Sweden. READ  

National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

National
Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe
The ship was rescued on Thursday. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe

After fears a ship carrying around 52 tonnes of oil could sink in Stockholm's archipelago, Sweden's Coast Guard said the vessel had been towed to safety. READ  

National
Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal
A scene from a video of the attack published by Dagens Nyheter

Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal

A policewoman accused of letting her dog attack a drunk man while she repeatedly hit him with a baton, has had her conviction overturned by a court in Stockholm. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

31 October

Editor’s Blog, October 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Welcome to our latest 60-second round-up of the week’s news. First, Sweden made headlines around the..." READ »

 

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

989
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN