STOCKHOLM, Sept 19 Nordic telecoms firm
TeliaSonera said on Wednesday it had done nothing
wrong in paying for its Uzbek mobile licence via an offshore
company in 2007, but such a deal would now be subject to more
TeliaSonera was responding to a report on Swedish public
television SVT, which questioned the route it had used to
purchase 3G licences and telephone numbers in Uzbekistan.
The telecoms group, in which the Swedish state has a 37
percent stake, has already been criticised in Sweden for letting
authorities in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Uzbekistan access its
network to keep tabs on anti-government activists. It has said
it was following local laws.
TeliaSonera said in a statement that it had signed a deal
with Gibraltar-based Takilant Ltd for 3G licenses and telephone
numbers in Uzbekistan in exchange for $30 million and a stake in
local mobile phone operator UCell, which it had bought earlier
TeliaSonera said lawyers found nothing suspect in a
background check on Takilant.
"I have no doubt that the transaction was done in the right
way," TeliaSonera spokeswoman Cecilia Edstrom said.
Uzbekistan's State Inspectorate for Communications was not
immediately available for comment. Reuters was unable to reach
Takilant for a comment.
"If we were to look at a similar case today, we would do a
more critical analysis of those type of risks that are related
to human rights and more sustainability-linked risks," Edstrom
"In the past it was more the political risk situation and
financial risk situation. I would say we have raised the bar."
Authorities in Uzbekistan revoked the licence of Telia's
Russian rival MTS this month and Edstrom said Telia was
worried about the business climate in the country.
($1 = 6.5668 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)