Telia admits bribery

Telia is being fined USD 965, around SEK 7.7 billion, for having bribed those in power in Uzbekistan. The company has reached agreement with the American authorities over corruption accusations and has admitted paying bribes of around SEK 2.6 billion.

The sum is in line with expectations and the company has made provisions for it. The sum is made up of a fine of around SEK 4.4 billion and a further SEK 3.6 billion for profits that they are considered to have made from paying the bribes.

CEO Johan Dennelind writes in a press release that the deal puts an end to a sad chapter in Telia Company’s history.

US and Netherlands demand billions from Telia

Authorities in the USA and the Netherlands want Telia Company to pay 1.4 billion, around SKr 12 billion, in a settlement for the Uzbekistan deal.

  Telia’s management estimate the proposal covers all ongoing investigations in all countries, including Sweden, although not criminal accusations against individuals in the Swedish preliminary investigation.

  CEO Johan Dennelind says that it is difficult to make detailed comments before the proposal has been gone through in detail. “Many times before I have said that Telia Company went into Uzbekistan in an unethical and wrong way and we are prepared to take responsibility for that,” he says.

  The authorities are investigating transactions Telia made whilst establishing a presence in Uzbekistan in 2007. Swedish TeliaSonera, Russian-Norwegian Vimpelcom and Russian MTS are suspected of having bribed Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbekistan’s then president Islam Karimov.

“A unique settlement”

VimpelCom’s settlement with the US and Dutch authorities last week to resolve charges of bribery in Uzbekistan has fuelled speculation that TeliaSonera, which is also under investigation, is about to reach a similar deal.

TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind does not wish to comment, other than to say the settlement VimpelCom has reached is “unique” and that TeliaSonera has received much praise for the measures it has taken to right wrongs.

The CEO tells DI that the operator is spending a great deal of time and energy trying to find a “natural buyer” for its business in Uzbekistan, and that he expects the divestment of the Nepalese business to Malaysia’s Axiata to be completed by the end of June.