Telenor suspends four execs over Uzbek probe - Mobile World Live

Telenor suspends four execs over Uzbek probe

12 NOV 2015

Norway’s Telenor suspended four executives, including its group CFO Richard Olav Aa, over the ongoing probe into its affiliate VimpelCom’s dealings in Uzbekistan.

VimpelCom, of which Telenor owns a 33 per cent stake, is one of three operators under investigation by US and Dutch authorities over allegations that it paid bribes to acquire spectrum and other benefits in the country.

telenor-cfoIn two separate statements, Telenor said group CFO Richard Olav Aa (pictured, left), general counsel Pal Wien Espen, CFO of Telenor subsidiary Dtac Fridtjof Rusten, and head of Telenor Russia Ole Bjoern Sjulstad had been “temporarily relieved of their responsibilities”.  The last two execs were previously Telenor nominees to VimpelCom’s executive committee.

Telenor, which last week appointed the law firm arm of Deloitte to review its own handling and oversight of its stake in the company, said it wanted to “avoid questions being raised about the review”, and had come to “mutual understanding” with the executives to relieve them of their responsibilities until “the facts have been established”.

Sigve Brekke, president and CEO at Telenor, however commented that the company had “no reason to believe that the executives have been involved in the alleged corruption in VimpelCom”.

“They are trusted managers with a solid track record in Telenor,” he added.

All four executives will retain their salaries during the period of leave of absence, with Telenor announcing EVP Morten Karlsen Sorby will take up a position as acting group CFO.

Sorby, who joined VimpelCom’s supervisory board earlier this year, will now withdraw from that position with immediate effect.

Interim replacements for Rusten and Sjulstad were not announced.

The suspensions come after former CEO Jon Frederik Baksaas ended a consultancy agreement with the Norwegian firm earlier this week.  Telenor chairman, Svein Aaser, resigned last month.

Last week, Norwegian police also arrested former VimpelCom CEO Jo Lunder, before courts ordered his release after finding no strong evidence linking him to the issue in Uzbekistan.


Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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