French Property Raided in TeliaSonera case
French financial police in cooperation with Swiss police simultaneously raided several locations in France last month in connection with the TeliaSonera corruption probe, a source familiar with the investigation revealed this week.
TeliaSonera is under investigation for bribing Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. TeliaSonera paid $320 million to Gibraltar based Takilant, a shell company run by an assistant to Gulnara Karimova. Swiss prosecutors are investigating the money laundering by Takilant in an associated investigation. Swedish prosecutors are investigating the bribery charges.
The aim was to "get documents and maybe to seize property by French authorities," according to an anonymous source who spoke with SVT Swedish Television.
Raids were confirmed to Swedish News Agency TT by the Swiss federal prosecutor. "I can confirm that police raids have taken place against several houses in France on our behalf," said spokeswoman Jeannette Balmer. She also certified that they are related to the big money-laundering investigation with ties to Uzbekistan, but did not elaborate because of the ongoing investigation.
A previous investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and TT revealed Gulnara Karimova owns two properties in France, a luxurious apartment in Paris and villa near San Tropez. Her widely acknowledged boyfriend is also the owner of a historic chateau west of Versailles. The managers of the companies that run the three properties were Takilant-representatives who are being investigated by either Swiss or Swedish prosecutors. One of the representatives, Bekzod Akhmedov, negotiated with TeliaSonera in Uzbekistan, even though he also was the CEO of TeliaSonera's competitor there.
Karimova is also considered a suspect in the Swedish investigation.
Swedish prosecutors have asked for legal aid – interrogations and other evidence collection - in twelve countries. One of them is Switzerland. From there, the Swedes have access to evidence in France, according to information obtained by TT.
Telia denies bribing anyone.