TeliaSonera says prosecutor to take next step in Uzbek probe

STOCKHOLM, March 28 Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:49am EDT

STOCKHOLM, March 28 (Reuters) - Nordic telecom operator TeliaSonera said on Thursday it had been informed Swedish prosecutors would proceed with a formal investigation into its business dealings in Uzbekistan that could lead to a fine or seizure of assets.

A Swedish prosecutor has been carrying out a preliminary investigation since last year into the company's purchase of a 3G telecom license in Uzbekistan amid allegations of bribery.

A separate investigation commissioned by Telia, published earlier this year, did not uncover any evidence of bribery or money laundering, but sharply criticised the deal and the company's top executive resigned in the wake of report.

"Due to the current preliminary investigation into suspicion of aggravated bribery, an investigation will be initiated with regard to possible corporate fines and possible forfeiture," TeliaSonera quoted the prosecutor as saying.

The company also said the measure was a "natural step" in the prosecutor's investigation and that it remained convinced that the corruption allegations were unfounded.