Telenor hired a law firm to run an independent inquiry into how affiliate VimpelCom behaved in Uzbekistan, CEO Sigve Brekke told Norwegian TV.
The move follows the resignation on Friday of Svein Aaser, the Norwegian firm’s chairman, after the country’s government expressed a lack of confidence in him.
“It saddens me when Telenor’s trust is questioned,” Brekke (pictured) told broadcaster NRK. “I want to make sure no stone is left unturned. I want to be certain of how Telenor has handled the Vimpelcom case in Uzbekistan all the way from 2005 until today.” He did not name the law firm.
VimpelCom, in which Telenor holds a 33 per cent stake, is one of three operators in Uzbekistan which are the subject of an investigation by US authorities concerning allegations they paid bribes to obtain spectrum and other benefits.
The Norwegian operator is keen to offload its stake, following a review initiated by Brekke earlier this year.
Monica Maeland, the country’s minister of trade and industry, said last week that she had new information about the VimpelCom case that she should have been informed about earlier, without saying exactly what the additional revelation was. The Norwegian government holds a 54 per cent stake in Telenor.
Brekke’s comments to the broadcaster were reported by Reuters.