Assets of Telia's Uzbek partner frozen in Sweden
15 Oct 2012, 17:41
Published: 15 Oct 2012 17:41 GMT+02:00
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A Stockholm court froze on Monday as part of a probe into money-laundering more than $30 million held by an Uzbek company in a Swedish bank account.
The Uzbek company, Takilant, is a partner of Swedish-Finnish telecoms giant TeliaSonera, which has been under investigation in Sweden since last month for corruption and money-laundering.
A Swedish current affairs programme, Uppdrag Granskning, claimed in September that Takilant is a Gibraltar-based, one-woman company run by 22-year-old Gayane Avakyan, whose background is in fashion and who has close ties to the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova.
The show claimed that TeliaSonera paid a bribe worth 2.2 billion kronor ($335 million) to Takilant to obtain a 3G mobile telephone licence and frequencies in Uzbekistan, as well as a 26-percent stake in the Uzbek company Ucell.
The Stockholm district court froze $30 million in Takilant's account at the Nordea bank while allegations of money-laundering are being investigated, it said.
But it rejected the prosecution's request to freeze additional assets worth 1.55 billion kronor, on the grounds that the alleged bribe did not take place in Sweden and therefore the court said it did not have jurisdiction.
Charges have to be pressed in the case by December 10th at the latest, the court said.
Bribery carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison in Sweden.
TeliaSonera, one of Sweden's biggest companies in which the Swedish state owns 37.3 percent and the Finnish state 13.7 percent, has denied any wrongdoing.