STOCKHOLM, April 18 (Reuters) - Telecoms firm TeliaSonera has appointed a law firm to scrutinise its Eurasian operations following heavy criticism of its activities in Uzbekistan and other countries.
Partly state-owned Telia, which has also been in hot water for allowing authorities in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to access its networks to keep tabs on anti-government activists, said on Thursday it had asked Norton Rose to look at deals it had made in the region.
“The aim of the review is to give TeliaSonera’s new board of directors a clear picture of the company’s transactions in Eurasia and to perform a risk assessment from a business ethical perspective,” Telia said in a statement.
Telia’s Eurasia unit, which also services clients in Tajikistan, Georgia, Moldova and Nepal, accounted for around 19 percent of total sales in 2012.
Swedish prosecutors have 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.
Two Telia executives have been named as suspects by prosecutors and a Swedish court has frozen the assets of the company Telia bought its Uzbek licence from.
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 saying a lack of due diligence made it difficult to rule out corruption somewhere along the line.
The company’s former top executive resigned in the wake of report.
Telia’s board was also replaced earlier this month. The previous board said it was committed to its operations in Eurasia, but it could consider withdrawing from countries where business and ethical risks were too high.
Telia said its latest review would be finished by the end of the year. (Ediitng by Alistair Scrutton and David Holmes)