US authorities are considering a probe into TeliaSonera’s operations in other Eurasian countries, building on an ongoing investigation over alleged corruption in Uzbekistan.
TeliaSonera’s business dealings in Uzbekistan are being investigated by US, Swedish and Dutch authorities over allegations the company, along with VimpelCom and MTS, paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to secure cellular frequencies in the country.
Amid the backdrop of the scandal in the country and the wider region, the company announced in September it would gradually exit the Eurasia market.
However, Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reports that worse still could now be facing the company.
The US Justice Department is considering the option of investigating more businesses operated by the Nordic operator in Eurasia, where it has a presence in seven markets.
Its operations in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are of particular interest to the US, according to the report. The company has faced scrutiny in those markets before.
The Swedish publication further cites a research note from Danske Bank, which states the likelihood that US authorities will further investigate the company as high, and could lead to damages of up to SEK15 billion ($1.7 billion).
US authorities have already approached the three operators in Uzbekistan to seize assets worth approximately $1 billion, as part of the investigation.
The development follows a report issued by US financial research firm Muddy Waters last month, which asserted that the company had not been transparent over whether its operations in other Eurasian markets and Nepal had indeed suffered from similar problems to what is alleged in Uzbekistan.
TeliaSonera said at the time “it did not recognise the conclusions” made by Muddy Waters.