Telenor suspends executives amid Vimpelcom probe

Telenor suspends executives amid Vimpelcom probe

Telenor has suspended two managers and two executives, including its CFO, over a probe into the group’s stake in VimpelCom.

CFO Richard Olav and general counsel Pal Wien Espen were temporarily relieved of their roles and EVP Morten Karlsen Sorby and Vegard Thoresen, who has worked in Telenor’s legal department since 2002, will assume their respective positions.

Two other managers who had been Telenor’s nominees to VimpelCom’s executive committee – Fridtjof Rusten and Ole Bjorn Sjulstad – were also temporarily suspended.

Last week, Telenor assigned Deloitte to conduct an external review of the group’s handling and oversight of its 33% ownership in VimpelCom. The Amsterdam-based company is being investigated by Dutch and US authorities for the alleged corruption to its operations in Uzbekistan.

Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said that the company has no reason to believe that the named executives and managers have been involved in the alleged corruption but to avoid questions being raised about the review, the decision was made to temporarily suspend them “until the facts have been established”.

Earlier in the week, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Telenor’s previous CEO, announced his resignation from all three positions he has retained in Telenor-affiliated companies since 2002, including a consulting agreement with Telenor.