Norwegian telecom giant Telenor was allegedly involved in a corruption scandal in Uzbekistan with ties to President Islam Karimov’s daughter, Norwegian media reported Saturday.
According to documents published by Norway’s Klassekampen daily, Vimpelcom, an Uzbek firm partially owned by Telenor, paid $25 million in bribes to obtain telecom licenses in the Central Asian nation.
The money allegedly went from a subsidiary of Vimpelcom to Takilant Limited, owned by Gayane Avakyan, a friend of Karimov’s oldest daughter, Gulnara Karimova.
“Bank statements document how the money was transferred from a previously unknown company in the British Virgin Islands as Vimpelcom purchased licenses to the mobile market in the former Soviet state,” Klassekampen wrote on its website.
Telenor owns 33 percent of Vimpelcom and has 43 percent of the voting rights in the company.
“We are a minority shareholder in Vimpelcom, so it’s up to Vimpelcom to take responsibility for answering any questions that relate to their operations,” Telenor communications head Glenn Mandelid told AFP.
“Telenor has zero tolerance for corruption, both when it comes to our own operations and also to the companies that we are part owners in.”
A similar graft scandal forced out the chief executive and several senior managers of Swedish-Finnish competitor TeliaSonera in 2013.