• Sweden edition
 
TeliaSonera deal in Nepal raises new questions

TeliaSonera deal in Nepal raises new questions

Published: 11 Oct 2012 11:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Oct 2012 11:43 GMT+02:00

Nordic telecom firm TeliaSonera has been hit with new revelations about suspicious business practices in Asia, this time stemming from a complex deal with a firm tied to the former ruling family in Nepal.

According to Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer, the 4.2 billion kronor ($624 million) TeliaSonera paid in 2008 for its stake in Nepalese telecom operator Ncell ended up with a company controlled by to Raj Bahadur Singh, the son-in-law of the deposed king.

The money was funneled through a number of shell companies in several countries, including Kazakhstan and Cyprus, the magazine reports.

The magazine describes Bahadur Singh's 2004 acquisition of Ncell as a "confiscation" whereby he took over the company from two other shareholders just prior to Ncell being awarded licences to operate mobile phone networks in the country.

Authorities have recently launched a probe into TeliaSonera's purchase of Ncell and its ties to the king's son-in-law stemming from suspicions of bribery, corruption, and tax fraud, according to Vekans Affärer.

However, TeliaSonera claimed the report contained "a number of errors and speculation", claiming Ncell was bought through Visor, an established investment firm in Kazakhstan.

"We were not able to review the material before it was published so we're now reviewing the article," company spokesperson Thomas Jönsson told the TT news agency.

The revelations are the latest in a string of reports which have raised questions about deals struck abroad by TeliaSonera, in which the Swedish state has the largest ownership stake.

Swedish prosecutors recently launched a corruption investigation into a deal forged between TeliaSonera and a company in Uzbekistan with links to the family of the former Soviet republic's authoritarian president.

Telecoms consultant Bengt Nordström explained that TeliaSonera has likely sought to do business with questionable regimes for from its home region because of the allure of higher profits.

"In the west, mobile phone penetration is over 100 percent and there is a lot of competition," he told the TT news agency.

"That they instead look to emerging markets is a trend that's been ongoing for the last ten years."

According to Nordström, most companies conclude that the upside of new profits outweigh the downsides of having ties to governments which have come under fire for corruption or rights abuses.

He explained that the Swedish government has previously viewed the export of technology to non-democratic countries as a first step in democratic development.

"The [Swedish] state, as an owner of Telia, acts and thinks today, and considering the media's treatment of Telia, may decide that they can no longer be owners of operations east of Finland and south of the Alps," said Nordström.

TT/The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV
Grossed out Ica woman at Easter dinner. Screengrab from Ica

Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV

A Swedish supermarket has decided to withdraw its Easter commercial, after Christians complained it made a mockery of communion - "They crossed the line." Sweden's advertising watchdog will now look into the case. READ () »

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut
The search and rescue operation in northern Sweden. File photo: TT

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut

The 22-year-old man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in northern Sweden had his sentence reduced on Wednesday, in part due to his "peculiar personality". READ () »

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

An elementary school in southern Sweden was evacuated on Wednesday and dozens of pupils were taken to hospital after the smell of gas spread through the rooms. READ () »

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock
The Flymen Church weathercock in all its newly gilded glory. Photo: TT

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock

A Swedish churchwarden has reacted with joy upon finding out the parish has Sweden's nicest weathercock. READ () »

Greens push rich tax to finance schools
Per Bolund of The Greens. File photo: TT

Greens push rich tax to finance schools

Sweden's third largest party The Greens revealed its shadow budget on Wednesday, targeting schools and youth employment. High earners would have to pitch in more. READ () »

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'
Ibiza, you say? File photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'

Mythbusting Swedish researchers have found no link between gushing about your upcoming holiday online and returning to an emptied house. They told The Local that a trip to Ikea could be much more dangerous. READ () »

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft
The people in this picture are not those from the story. Photo: TT

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft

A woman in Gothenburg who accused a beggar of robbing her has been charged with fraud and false accusations. READ () »

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
Photo: Kungahuset

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess

Sweden's royal family has set the date for the baptism of Princess Leonore. READ () »

The Local List
Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

With Swedish Game of Thrones fans frothing at the mouth at the season four premiere, The Local revisits its list of ten reasons why the hit books and show are (probably) based in Sweden. READ () »

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers
The Kockums Malmö shipyard and FMV headquarters. Files: TT

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers

After the Swedish military raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp, a military expert tells The Local why recent Russian aggression means Sweden's Saab needs to take control of national submarine production. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Advertisement:
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
TT
Society
VIDEO: Leaked 'Save Slussen' film goes viral
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching, March 28-30
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
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 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

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

737
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