TeliaSonera hit with new Uzbek revelations

TeliaSonera hit with new Uzbek revelations
Nordic telecom firm TeliaSonera has been hit with new revelations about another business deal with Uzbekistan, which came after a request from the daughter of the country’s president who “needed more money”.

Sveriges Television (SVT) current affairs programme Uppdrag Granskning claimed on its website on Sunday that TeliaSonera bought a 4G mobile telephone licence worth 370 million kronor ($55 million) from Takilant.

The news comes following revelations in September that TeliaSonera paid a bribe worth 2.2 billion kronor to Takilant for a 3G mobile telephone licence and frequencies in Uzbekistan, as well as a 26-percent stake in the Uzbek company Ucell.

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.

Karimova herself indirectly contacted one of TeliaSonera’s subsidiaries in 2010, explaining she needed more money, according to a source.

TeliaSonera refused to comment on the allegations to the TT news agency.

TeliaSonera had no need for a further licence, and in its public annual report, no mention of the Talikant deal can be found, according to Uppdrag Granskning.

However, information on Uzbekistan’s trade authority website suggests that the company does indeed have a 4G licence.

Following September’s revelations about TeliaSonera’s deals in Uzbekistan, the CEO of the company, Lars Nyberg, announced that he would be stepping down from his post earlier than planned, although the company said the departure had nothing to do with the Uzbek deals.

Last April, TeliaSonera also came under fire following an SVT report that the company gave state security services access to systems it operates in several countries in the former Soviet Union in order to secure lucrative contracts.

TT/The Local/og

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