Sweden: Prosecutors Win Right to Arrest TeliaSonera’s Uzbek Partners, Freeze Assets
After scoring an important win in appeals court Wednesday, Swedish prosecutors can now proceed with bribery charges against the Uzbek nationals involved in the scandal at Swedish telecom TeliaSonera, the Swedish News Agency reports.
The Uzbek suspects are representatives of Takilant Ltd, TeliaSonera’s local partner in Uzbekistan, which took a payment of $320 million in 2007 in return for issuing TeliaSonera the 3G license it would need to operate in Uzbekistan.
Takilant turned out to be an offshore shell corporation run by a close friend of the Uzbek dictator’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova, and prosecutors now claim Takilant was laundering TeliaSonera’s payment as a pay-to-play bribe to the Uzbek regime.
The Swedish court on Wednesday ruled that although the Uzbek defendants never set foot in Sweden, their electronic correspondence with Swedish business partners gave the Swedish court jurisdiction over their crimes.
This ruling also gives Swedish prosecutors the power to freeze Takilant’s assets and to issue international arrest warrants for its representatives, which include several close associates of Gulnara Karimova and, depending on the definition of “representatives,” could even include Karimova herself. While she was not listed in records as a company employee, Karimova had access to Takilant’s bank records and accounts.
Swedish Prosecutor Gunnar Stetler did not confirm or deny plans to issue such warrants, according to the Swedish News Agency’s report. “I can’t comment on that but it is not something which is imminent,” he said.