US authorities to seize $1 billion in assets
US regulators have reportedly called on their European counterparts to seize over $1 billion in assets of three telecoms companies in an alleged corruption scandal linked to the daughter of the Uzbekistan president.
Authorities are said to believe that Amsterdam-based VimpelCom, Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems and TeliaSonera in Sweden have channelled hundreds of millions of dollars to companies controlled by Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, reported the Wall Street Journal. In return, the operators received mobile spectrum and other deals in the country.
The three operators have been under investigation by the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection to their operations in the country. No person or company has been charged as part of the investigations.
In 2013 then chief of TeliaSonera Lars Nyberg resigned following allegations that the company had participated in bribery and money laundering in Uzbekistan. The investigation did not produce any evidence of corruption.
In an interview with Global Telecoms Business in 2014, its CEO Johan Dennelind pledged to conduct operations more carefully.
“The short answer is that we’re doing a lot,” said Dennelind who was appointed in September 2013. “We need to do things in a more thorough way and carry out our transactions in a more transparent manner.”