Nordic operator TeliaSonera admitted it may have broken laws in other countries as Dutch, Swedish and US authorities continue their investigation into the operator’s dealings in Uzbekistan.
Chair of the TeliaSonera board, Marie Ehrling – as reported by Reuters – said “problems” had been identified in other Eurasian markets following a review conducted by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright on TeliaSonera’s behalf.
“The board can unfortunately say that several transactions and practices have not been handled in accordance with good business practice,” Ehrling said. “It cannot be excluded that certain actions have been criminal.”
Kazakhstan, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Georgia are the countries flagged up by the report.
Pressure on former CEO Lars Nyberg (pictured) has also increased. At an annual general meeting yesterday (2 April), shareholders did not discharge Nyberg from liability in his capacity as CEO for the 2013 financial year.
The Swedish state, which owns 37 per cent of TeliaSonera, backed the decision.
“We as owners today lack information to say whether Lars Nyberg in his role as CEO in January 2013 failed in his duties and thus can be held liable,” Sweden’s state secretary, Erik Thedeen, told the meeting, according to Reuters.
For the same period shareholders discharged the board of directors from any liability, as well as Johan Dennelind and Per-Arne Blomquist in their capacity as CEOs.
Nyberg resigned in February 2013 after an external review criticised TeliaSonera for not being more careful when it bought the Uzbeki mobile licence in 2007.
Bribery and money laundering are among the charges being investigated following an expose on Sweden’s SVT public broadcaster in May last year. Swedish prosecutors subsequently opened an investigation into whether TeliaSonera knew, or should have known, when it bought the licence from intermediary company Takilant – registered in Gibraltar – that the money went to President Islam Karimov’s family.
The Uzbekistan scandal has caused huge upheaval at TeliaSonera. Although the operator has always maintained that it has not broken any laws in the country, Dennelind – appointed CEO in June last year – fired four top executives in November as part of a management clear-out.