Gulnara Karimova “suspect” in Sweden

Lars Nyberg was forced to resign over the Uzbek scandal © SVT
Prosecutors in Sweden consider former TeliaSonera CEO Lars Nyberg and Gulnara Karimova to be suspects in a corruption case after learning of a planned meeting in Tashkent.

The former CEO of Swedish-Finnish telecommunications giant TeliaSonera, Lars Nyberg, went to Tashkent on 29 August 2012 with the intention of meeting with Gulnara Karimova, according to the latest findings by Swedish SVT journalists.

Nyberg intended to meet with Karimova, at her request, to discuss the amount to be paid by TeliaSonera for the rights for its cell phone operator Ucell doing business in Uzbekistan.

The journalists of the program “Mission: Investigation” cite an anonymous source, known as Aleksander, who earlier supplied them with papers hand-written by Karimova which instructed her staff as to the size of the bribes that should be demanded from TeliaSonera.

In the latest leak, Aleksander gave details about Karimova’ and Nyberg’s meeting in Tashkent.

In addition to Lars Nyberg, those intended to be present at the meeting included the company’s Eurasian operations manager, Veysel Aral, the communications manager, Erim Taylanlar, and the company’s Swedish representative, Bjorn Strid.

It was planned that Ucell’s Uzbekistan VP Bakhodyr Jergashev, who was being investigated for money laundering in Switzerland, would be replaced by Dzhamshid Khakimov, another person associated with Karimova.

The multi-million dollar grant to Karimova’s Fund Forum, as well as a visit by the aging Greek singer Demis Roussos, were part of the demands Karimova put to the company.

TeliaSonera’s press relations officer Solomon Bekele confirmed to SVT that the former CEO met with Gulnara Karimova, but stated that the meeting took place in 2008. In August of 2012 Nyberg did visit Tashkent for 24 hours, but only met with Ucell employees.

According to SVT’s source Aleksander, the meeting was canceled because of Karimova.

Karimova was in Qarshi on 28 August on Fund Forum’s business and then flew on her private plane to Samarqand rather than Tashkent. The meeting with Lars Nyberg was canceled.

The Swedish prosecution, which is conducting the investigation against TeliaSonera on corruption charges for allegedly paying approximately 340 million USD to Gulnara Karimova for the “license” to operate in Uzbekistan, is interested in the new information provided by Swedish journalists.

“Mission: Investigation” reports that the prosecutor’s office petitioned a court in Stockholm to receive access to the original documents received by SVT journalists from Aleksander.

The petition submitted to the anti-corruption department of Swedish Prosecutor’s office states, according to SVT journalists: “We have reasons to believe that the documents and fingerprints belong to a person currently being investigated.”

This petition leads one to believe that Gulnara Karimova is being formally suspected in the current corruption case in Sweden.

SVT journalists say that they are obligated to protect their sources but in this specific case their source does not object to these documents being submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office.