The arrest of the former director general of the holding VimpelCom Ltd. Jo Lunder said in Oslo on November 5 the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK, which refers to representing the interests of Norwegian lawyer Lunder Kato Shettsa. According to the lawyer, the former head of VimpelCom was arrested at the airport Oslo Gardermoen on November 4, when he returned from London. The arrest is most likely associated with the investigation of corruption in the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan, the lawyer suggests.
On the eve of November 4, the Norwegian Directorate for Combating Economic and Environmental Crime (OKOKRIM) reported that provides assistance to the authorities of the Netherlands and Switzerland to obtain information from Telenor (Norwegian shareholder of VimpelCom), and interrogation in Norway. In a conversation with RBC District Attorney Marianne OKOKRIM Dyupesland he confirmed that Lunder was arrested on November 4th. The prosecutor noted that while it is in the status of a suspect in corruption case Vimpelsom in Uzbekistan and no charges have been filed yet not. Lunder will be questioned on November 5, after which the prosecutor will decide whether he will have to stayflax under arrest. To say whether more arrests in the case of Uzbekistan, the prosecutor refused to in the near future, citing the secrecy of the investigation and the fact that it is in the "still a very early stage."
Sam Lunder Nov. 3 rejected the Norwegian edition of Dagens Næringsliv their involvement in corruption in VimpelCom: «I had nothing to do with corruption and all I knew, said the authorities."
The VimpelCom confirmed the arrest Lunder, but refused to comment on the investigation. VimpelCom spokesman Neil Moorhouse said the company continues "to cooperate with the United States and the Netherlands authorities' and in compliance with anti-corruption standards, the latter -" one of the main objectives of the new management. "
Representative LetterOne (VimpelCom shareholder with a share of 56.2%) Bruzett Stewart declined to comment. Dmitry Solodovnikov, a spokesman for MTS - the operator is also featured in the "Uzbek case", he said the company is aware of the arrest Lunder, but the other declined to comment. TeliaSonera representatives (one person involved "Uzbek affair") and Telenor's (shareholder of VimpelCom) did not respond to calls torrespondenta RBC.
The essence of suspicion
The investigation of corruption in the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan, the US Department of Justice, the US Commission on the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of Public Prosecutor of the Netherlands are from 2014. As RBC wrote, the US law enforcers suspect that MTS operators, Vimpelsom and TeliaSonera through front companies to pay for licenses and frequency of bribes to local officials, who allegedly is a relative of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. The name is not called, but judging by the materials of the investigation, we can talk about the president's daughter Gulnara Karimova. In case are two persons who are known to be close to Karimova: Rustam Madumarov law husband and a close friend Gayane Avagyan. In July 2015 the US Justice Department obtained a court order to arrest the $ 300 million in the accounts of the associated companies. As follows from the claims, the US Justice Department found that structure may affiliated with Karimova, concluded with MTS at least eight suspicious transactions totaling $ 380 million, and with VimpelCom -. Seven for $ 133.5 million All transactions were made during the period from yanvaI 2006 to October 2011.
Suspicious transactions Vimpelsom
In 2006, VimpelCom acquired two Uzbek operators - Unitel (for $ 200 million plus debt of $ 7.7 million) and Buztel (for $ 60 million plus debt of $ 2.4 million). Unitel was at that time the second mobile operator in the local market with a share of 31% and more than 350 thousand. Users and Buztel held only 0.3% of the market. From the statement of claim US Department of Justice, which RBC in July 2015 wrote in detail, it should be: purchase Buztel was necessary as the "entry ticket" to the Uzbek market. Then VimpelCom Buztel annexed together with the available frequencies it has to Unitel. Uzbek law prohibits the transfer frequency from one operator to another, but all the necessary permits from the controller was received.
The suit lists several suspicious payments in VimpelCom Takilant address of the company allegedly linked to Gulnara Karimova.
Thus, in 2006 it has received Takilant for "consulting services," $ 19 million. It is expected that in fact it was a fee for their assistance at the confluence of two Uzbek "daughters" of VimpelCom.
In 2007 Takilant for $ 20 million in VimpelCom acquired 7% of Unitel and at the same timeaklyuchila put option, which obliged VimpelCom buy the stake back. Reverse repurchase took place two years later, of VimpelCom paid for these shares $ 57.5 million, which is almost three times more expensive.
In 2007 Takilant sold 3G-frequency VimpelCom, owned by her Uzbek "daughter» Teleson. The deal amounted to $ 25 million.
In autumn 2011, VimpelCom Takilant paid about $ 30 million Formally -. For the analytical report on the situation in the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan and a number of recommendations for the construction of LTE-networks. Really - for assistance in obtaining frequencies for the LTE standard.
Where to watch the shareholders
On Tuesday, November 3, VimpelCom reported that the reserve balance of $ 900 million. This is due to the investigation, which carried the US Justice Department and the Prosecutor's Office of the Netherlands, and which concerns the circumstances VimpelCom exit to the market of Uzbekistan and transactions Takila nt, followed from the press release operator.
Minority shareholder of VimpelCom - Norwegian Telenor - has reacted quite harshly. As follows from the report of the company, such a move on the part of VimpelCom «substantially increases concerns about the outcome of the bundlement. " Even on Sunday, 1 November, it was announced that Telenor has hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the circumstances related to the exit VimpelCom telecommunications market of Uzbekistan.
A month ago, on 5 October, Telenor's reported that disappointed in VimpelCom, and intends to sell its stake in it (33% of the capital).
Recently, Telenor left the two main boss, and it looks like both - in connection with the "Uzbek affair".
At the end of October 2015 the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Norway (Telenor controls 53.97% of shares) dismissed the chairman of Telenor Svein Auxerre. Minister Monica Meland explained resign "loss of confidence in Auxerre in connection with a corruption case VimpelCom». This conclusion, according to her, was made on the basis of new information on the case of VimpelCom. In the words of Auxerre, he and the Ministry disagreed on the matter VimpelCom.
Jo Lunder and VimpelCom
During his career, Jo Lunder has worked in several European IT- and telecom companies, including Telenor Mobile. Vimpelsom Company (till 2011 - "VimpelCom") dedicated Lunderalmost 15 years. Post head Vimpelsom Lunder left in April 2015 - was replaced by Jean-Yves Charlier. Lunder had to stay in VimpelCom as an advisor until 13 July 2015.
Lunder began in 2001 as the head of the Russian "VimpelCom", and in 2011 became Chief Executive Officer Vimpelsom Ltd - a company that was founded in 2010 by the merger of Ukrainian "Kyivstar" and Russian "VimpelCom". To it was later joined Wind Telecom Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris. After the mergers and acquisitions Vimpelsom spanned 19 countries, becoming the sixth operator in the world in terms of subscribers.
After retiring from Vimpelsom, Lunder May 30, led by Fredriksen Group, owned by Norwegian tycoon John Fredriksen, who made a fortune in sea freight. In Fredriksen Group comprises a number of companies, including oilfield Seadrill, cooperation with the "daughter" of which - North Atlantic Drilling Limited (NADL) - negotiated "Rosneft" in May, 2014.
And in August 2015 he retired President and CEO Telenor CEO Fredrik Baksaas, who has held his post for 13 years. Until Decemberabrya 2014 Baksaas served on the Supervisory Board of VimpelCom, which he left due to a corruption scandal that, as he said, "focus on the protection of Telenor's position."
November 3 Baksaas admitted that in January 2015, during the parliamentary hearings on the case of VimpelCom, in which he participated, and Auxerre, he did not disclose certain information relating to the investigation of what is now regretted, said the publication Dagens Næringsliv. According to him, at the time the investigation "has not progressed far enough, and it was not clear that this information can mean." In connection with the statement of the head of the Norwegian Parliament Baksaas Control Committee Martin Kolberg he said that the Committee unanimously decided to hold a new hearing on the case of corruption in the Telenor-Vimpelsom.
On arrest Lunder VimpelCom's stock on NASDAQ reacted ambiguously: the opening of the fall by 2.6%, and then rose at 18:23 MSK they traded at 2% above the closing price on November 4. Over the past three months, the company's stock fell almost 36%.
Corruption scandal in Uzbekistan
Swedish Journalists Teleridiokompanii in one of the issues Uppdrag granskning program (literally - "Mission: Investigation") reported on the work of the Swedish telecommunications company of TeliaSonera, in which 37.3% owned by the Government of Sweden, in the countries of the former Soviet Union, in particular, on entering the market circumstances, Uzbekistan. Based on investigative journalism Swedish prosecutor's office at the end of September 2012 to initiate an investigation against corrupt practices TeliaSonera.
At the beginning of 2013 he left his post CEO of TeliaSonera Lars Nyberg. Nyberg resigned after the law firm Mannheimer Swartling, hired to conduct an independent investigation designed to find out whether the company knew buying a license from Takilant, that money went to the family of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov stated that TeliaSonera was not enough hard inner control of corruption. However, the company found no evidence of bribery, or money laundering.
In March 2014 the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched an investigation nthe case in respect of VimpelCom, and operator headquartered in Amsterdam, visited the staff of the Dutch prosecutor's office and seized a number of documents. As follows from the official posts VimpelCom, these actions of the authorities could be associated with the company's business in Uzbekistan. Then the SEC requested information on the work in Uzbekistan and MTS.
CEO and President Fredrik Baksaas Telenor left the Supervisory Board of VimpelCom. "I'm out of the VimpelCom Supervisory Board and intends to focus exclusively on the protection of Telenor's position. The company has zero tolerance for corruption. As owners of VimpelCom, we intend to help the investigation, which is underway, "Baksaas quoted in a statement of resignation from the Supervisory Board.
US District Court for the Southern District of New York in late June arrested $ 300 million in the accounts of companies that are associated with the investigation of the transaction, MTS and Vimpelsom in the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan. US Justice Department has counted between MTS (including its "daughters") and structures that could be relevant to the daughter of Uzbek President Gunare Karimova, a minimum of eight disputed transactions totaling $ 380 million. In the case of VimpelCom US Justice Department gave the seven suspicious transactions totaling $ 133.5 million, which were concluded in the period from January 2006 to October 2011.
Telenor announced its intention to find a buyer for its stake in the 33% stake in Vimpelsom. As RBC Telenor representative said the decision to withdraw from VimpelCom business was founded on the belief of the company that it can be "more successful in creating value in the main areas of activity." However, analysts believed that Russia's withdrawal from the asset may be associated with the ongoing investigation against VimpelCom.
VimpelCom said that the reserve balance of $ 900 million in connection with the potential liabilities that may arise in connection with the investigations in the United States and the Netherlands. In the Swedish Telenor (owns 33% of ordinary shares of Vimpelcom Ltd.) statement operator regarded as "serious developments, which significantly increases concerns about the results of the investigation is still ongoing."