Prosecutor seeks docs in TeliaSonera bribes case

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Prosecutor seeks docs in TeliaSonera bribes case

Prosecutors are seeking to force Sveriges Television (SVT) to hand over documents believed to bear the handwriting of the Uzbek dictator's daughter Gulnara Karimova in connection with an ongoing bribery probe.


The demand is thought to indicate that Karimova may also be implicated in the alleged bribes scandal involving telecom firm TeliaSonera.

Prosecutor Berndt Berger has applied to the Stockholm district court for the hand over of the documents, which were made public by SVT's Uppdrag Granskning programme in May.

"(It is of) great importance for the investigation for the original documents to be examined, partly with regard to fingerprints, and for writing sample analysis," Berger's application read, according to the TT news agency.

"We have significant reason to believe that the hand-writing, and any fingerprints, are from one of the persons who are subject to the investigation."

It is widely reported that the person in question is Gulnara Karimova, the 40-year-old daughter of Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov.

The documents are said to discuss an agreement with TeliaSonera to sponsor events led by Karimova's charitable organization Fund Forum, which has been criticized for financing her personal wealth and political ambitions.

TeliaSonera is alleged to have discussed receiving the protection of the Uzbek authorities, an agreement which the firm claims to have turned down.

"It is clear from the documents that Telia could consider paying two million US dollars instead of three per quarter. Offering money is itself a crime," Berger said.

The document also refers to a forthcoming "high level meeting" in late August 2012. It is known that the former CEO Lars Nyberg visited the country on August 29th.

According to unconfirmed information to SVT and Fokus magazine, there were plans for a meeting then with Karimova that did not materialize. The firm has stated that the pair did not meet.

SVT has declined to surrender the documents, citing press freedom. If the court however supports the prosecutor's application then the broadcaster will be obliged to disclose the documents.

Allegations of bribery and money laundering at TeliaSonera emerged following a September 2012 report by Sveriges Television (SVT) investigative news programme Uppdrag Granskning.

It claimed that TeliaSonera in 2007 paid a bribe worth 2.2 billion kronor ($337 million) to company Takilant for 3G mobile telephone licences and frequencies in Uzbekistan, as well as a 26-percent stake in the Uzbek company Ucell. Takilant has ties to Gulnara Karimova.

Shortly after the allegations came to light, then CEO Nyberg promised he would resign if the bribery allegations proved true. While a Mannheimer Swartling report into the affair found no direct evidence that criminal acts had taken place, it proved enough to prompt Nyberg's resignation.

At least three managers are currently under suspicion in the case.

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