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Bribery: Telecom firm to pay fine of $1bn

Swedish telecom firm Telia will pay fines of nearly $ 1 billion to settle a bribery case brought by US , Swedish and Dutch authorities , the US Justice Department announced Thursday.

Stockholm -based Telia Company AB, whose securities traded in New York, “ corruptly built a lucrative telecommunications business in Uzbekistan , using bribe payments wired around the world through accounts here in New York City , ” Acting US Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement.

Telia and its Uzbek subsidiary, Coscom LLC, “ have admitted to paying , over many years, more than $331 million in bribes to an Uzbek government official. ”

As part of the multinational case , US authorities charged the companies with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act , in what Kim called “ one of the largest criminal corporate bribery and corruption resolutions ever. ”

In addition to the fines , the company “ also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls and cooperate fully with the Department ’ s ongoing investigation, including its investigation of individuals, ” the statement said .

The probes were opened in March 2014 into alleged payments made to an Uzbek firm to obtain a mobile operating license as well as a 26 percent stake in the local operator Ucell .

Telia and Coscom admitted paying approximately $ 331 million in bribes to a Uzbek official , who was a close relative of a high-ranking government official and had influence over the body that regulated the telecom industry .

It was the second resolution by a major international telecommunications provider to settle charges of bribery in Uzbekistan .

In February 2016, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Limited and its Uzbek subsidiary, Unitel LLC, also admitted to a conspiracy to make more than $114 million in bribery payments to the same Uzbek government official between 2006 and 2012 . That investigation has thus far yielded a combined total of over $ 1. 76 billion in global fines .

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