The US court engaged in Russian bribes in Uzbekistan
The US Justice Department has obtained in court permission to block 300 million dollars in the accounts of companies involved in the investigation of a corruption scheme in the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan, in which Russian telecom operators Vimpelcom and MTS are suspected.
The Federal Court of the Southern District of New York on Thursday granted the agency’s request, Bloomberg reports.
The money to be blocked is held in accounts in banks in Ireland, Luxembourg and Belgium, owned by the American Bank of New York Mellon.
According to investigators, this money was involved in an international scheme for money laundering. Part of this money belongs to Takilant Limited, allegedly related to the daughter of Uzbekistan’s President Gulnara Karimova.
Investigators believe that Vimpelcom and MTS, through a network of dummy companies and fake consulting services contracts, donated bribes to a close relative of President Islam Karimov in exchange for access to the country's telecommunications market, Bloomberg said.
In March last year, Vimpelcom Limited reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the company and requested a number of documents. At the same time, a criminal investigation was launched in Europe: prosecutors from the Netherlands arrived at the Vimpelcom headquarters in Amsterdam and seized a number of documents. As suggested in the holding, the seizure of documents was associated with the operations of Vimpelcom in Uzbekistan.
In 2014, Vimpelcom disclosed information on transactions with Takilant in the annual report, stating that in 2007 he sold Takilant 7% of his Uzbek business for 20 million dollars, and in 2009 he bought back for 57,5 million dollars.
The law enforcement agencies of Sweden and Switzerland are also investigating the “Uzbek case”. The investigation by the Swedish authorities has already led to the resignation of the general director of the Scandinavian TeliaSonera Lars Nyberg.
The company MTS said that in the course of the decision of the American court, but refuse to comment. Vimpelcom said earlier that they will continue to cooperate with the authorities in the investigation of the case.
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