TeliaSonera Appoints Law Firm after its Uzbek Business Scandal

• Category: Uzbekistan
STOCKHOLM (TeliaSonera press service) – TeliaSonera has assigned Mannheimer Swartling, a major Swedish law firm, to review its investment in Uzbekistan in 2007. At the same time, the board has appointed Sweden’s former ambassador to Russia, Tomas Bertelman, as a strategic advisor on matters related to the company’s operations in Central Asia.
Portrait of Tomas Bertelman

Tomas Bertelman

Ambassador Bertelman has extensive international experience and knowledge on the conditions prevailing in the former Soviet Union. Up until recently he was Sweden’s ambassador to Russia, and has previously also been ambassador in Madrid, Riga and Warsaw as well as Consul General in the then Leningrad (St Petersburg). Mr Bertelman has also been Secretary of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mannheimer Swartling have been asked by TeliaSonera to investigate whether TeliaSonera’s investment in a 3G-license, frequencies and number series in Uzbekistan in 2007 involved any form of corruption or money laundering. The review will be led by Biörn Riese, Mannheimer Swartling’s managing partner. Mr Riese will report to TeliaSonera’s board of directors and the results of the external review will be made public.

“It is good that the review is now under way. The board has great confidence in Mannheimer Swartling and Biörn Riese, who possess all the prerequisites to carry out an independent legal assessment of the transaction with Takilant Ltd,” says Anders Narvinger, Chairman TeliaSonera.

“The allegations directed at TeliaSonera are very serious and therefore it is important that an independent party now reviews the transaction and truly gets to the bottom of all allegations and rumours which have flourished in recent weeks. At the same time, we will of course on all fronts cooperate with the police in its investigation, so that no questions remain as to whether we paid bribes or participated in money laundering, says Lars Nyberg,” President and CEO TeliaSonera.

TeliaSonera has also assigned Sweden’s former ambassador to Russia, Tomas Bertelman, to act as a strategic advisor in matters concerning the company’s operations in Central Asia. Ambassador Bertelman will assist the board in its efforts to manage the difficult tradeoffs associated with conducting business in the markets in question.

Mr Bertelman will advise the board in relation to future business decisions, as well as in more general matters where conflicts of interest might arise due to the company’s code of conduct and international framework on one hand and the national legislation and current market conditions on the other hand. In his work, Mr Bertelman will engage in dialogue with international intergovernmental bodies as well as various non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“With the recruitment of Tomas Bertelman we will further strengthen our focus on sustainability matters. Telecommunications is a great force, which facilitates people’s everyday lives. There is no better tool for transparency and democracy than telecommunications. At the same time, we operate in markets that are considered to be high risk markets. Therefore, we have decided to bring in external expertise to make better assessments,” says Anders Narvinger, Chairman TeliaSonera.