Several employees at Telenor’s Pakistan-based Microfinance Bank were accused of helping scam the operation out of NOK30 million ($3.3 million), Norwegian business publication Dagens Naeringsliv reported.

Staff at the bank, which runs mobile money operation Easypaisa, are suspected of approving fake loan applications with external parties also implicated in the scam.

Although no specific details have been provided by either the operator or bank, the newspaper estimates more than 1,600 fraudulent loans had been processed since February 2017. The accused employees deny all charges.

Telenor’s operation in Pakistan is investigating and will report any further suspected fraudulent activity to the country’s police. On Saturday (7 December), several of the accused appeared at a preliminary hearing in Lahore, which was subsequently adjourned.

The operation is owned by Telenor and Alipay parent Ant Financial, after the latter purchased a 45 per cent stake in the venture in 2018 with a commitment to pump fresh funds into the business.

Its current fraud case refers to activity at just one of the 171 Telenor Microfinance branches, Pakistan Today reported, with activity at other offices also said to be under investigation.