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New allegations of TeliaSonera link to Uzbek first daughter

Gulnara Islomovna Karimova, 40, is the eldest daughter of the president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)Documents leaked to Swedish investigative journalists appear to offer fresh evidence of a link between Swedish telecom giant TeliaSonera and Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the president of Uzbekistan. And the documents suggest that TeliaSonera agreed to pay bribes as recently as the summer of 2012.

A report Wednesday by RFE/RL said the documents ‘show TeliaSonera being asked to pay hefty bribes in exchange for protection from government agencies and an infusion of new clients.’

Some documents appear to show Karimova ‘personally dictating the terms of the negotiations through a series of scribbles, complaints, and queries handwritten on the documents,’ the report said.

TeliaSonera is under investigation for allegedly paying more than $300 million in bribes to a middleman for Karimova to win access to the Uzbek telecom market in 2007.

Swiss and Swedish authorities are investigating Karimova and her associates for bribery and money-laundering. Swedish prosecutors have opened an ‘aggravated bribery’ case against several TeliaSonera employees, the report said.

TeliaSonera CEO Lars Nyberg quit in February. The company’s two largest shareholders are the Swedish and Finnish governments.

The Russian-language documents cannot be authenticated but came from a whistleblower ‘who appeared to be well-acquainted with specific aspects of TeliaSonera’s dealings in Uzbekistan,’ RFE/RL said.

Click to enlargeOne of the documents, according to RFE/RL, is a point-by-point summary of business negotiations with TeliaSonera during the summer of 2012. It appears to have been drafted by a Karimova aide for her review.

The note refers to TeliaSonera’s ‘confirmation’ that it will pay a one-off fee of $5 million in exchange for 2 million new mobile-phone subscribers. The note is dated July 31, 2012 — just weeks after Uzbek authorities revoked the operating license of a rival company, Russia’s MTS, leaving 9 million Uzbek subscribers without wireless service, the report said.

Karimova hasn’t commented on the story. TeliaSonera has issued several denials of any business dealings with Karimova.

Parts of this report are subject to Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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