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Two telecoms have already paid big fines for handing out bribes worth some half-billion dollars to late Uzbek leader Karimov’s daughter.4 September 2018
Three former top executives of one of Scandinavia’s largest telecoms companies, Telia, are defending themselves against charges of paying mind-boggling bribes to the daughter of late Uzbek leader Islam Karimov.
The trial of the former Telia executives was set to begin in a Stockholm courtroom today, OCCRP reports.
Last September, Telia, formerly TeliaSonera, agreed to pay fines of nearly $1 billion (866.5 million euros) to settle charges by the United States, the Netherlands, and Sweden that the company had paid more than $331 million in bribes to an unnamed Uzbek official between 2007 and 2010, The Local’s Swedish edition reported.
At the same time, the executives – former chief executive Lars Nyberg, former deputy CEO and head of its Eurasia division Tero Kivisaari, and a third, unnamed, former senior employee – were charged with bribery.
The defendants deny any wrongdoing.
Karimova is being held in a prison outside Tashkent, her Swiss-based defense lawyer recently told RFE/RL.
Telia is not the only telecom that has admitted paying enormous bribes to get a foothold in Uzbekistan’s infant mobile phone market.
In 2016, VimpelCom (now VEON), partly controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, agreed to pay $795 million in fines sought by U.S. and Dutch authorities. U.S. authorities accused VimpelCom and its Uzbek subsidiary of paying more than $114 million between 2006 and 2012 for mobile phone licenses and frequencies to a relative of Karimov’s, assumed to be Gulnara.
"All telecom companies that wanted to do business in Uzbekistan used the same method. They paid Karimova, or her offshore company Takilant, for government decisions and protection," OCCRP quotes Swedish prosecutor Gunnar Stetler as saying.
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