TeliaSonera begins legal proceedings in Uzbek licence row

04 October 2012 | Kavit Majithia


TeliaSonera has commenced legal proceedings against allegations of wrongdoing relating to its purchase of a 3G licence in Uzbekistan in 2007.

Swedish prosecutors have also launched an investigation into the $348 million deal and TeliaSonera’s move was welcomed by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

TeliaSonera is a third owned by the state, and it appears that steps have been taken to clear the company’s name. The issue stems from allegations that TeliaSonera bought its 3G licence in Uzbekistan from a company that has close ties with the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president Islam Karimov.

Karimov has ruled the state since its independence from the Soviet Union two decades ago.

Telia has since appointed a law firm to identify if the licence purchase involved any elements of money laundering or corruption and Sweden’s former ambassador to Russia as a strategic advisor relating to the company’s operations in Central Asia.

Reuters reports the Swedish state and Telia’s shareholders rebuked the company earlier this year, after allowing authorities in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Belarus to access its networks in a bid to keep tabs on anti-government activists.

“The allegations directed a TeliaSonera are very serious and therefore it is important that an independent party now reviews the transaction and truly gets to the bottom of all allegations and rumors which have flourished in recent weeks,” said Lars Nyberg. CEO at TeliaSonera.

This is not the first case of trouble for an international telecoms company in Uzbekistan. Russian operator MTS had its Uzbek licence withdrawn and its assets withdrawn in September this year.