VimpelCom announced a global agreement on “Uzbek case”


About the talks held with the authorities of the United States and the Netherlands on the “Uzbek case”, according to statements of VimpelCom for the year 2015. The document States that the company is still waiting for final approval from the Ministry of justice and the Commission on securities and stock exchanges of the US and Dutch public Prosecutor’s office. For compensation under the settlement agreement with the authorities of VimpelCom expects to spend an amount that does not exceed the amount previously set-aside funds, said in the statement. In November 2015, VimpelCom has been frozen in their accounts of $900 million.

That in the U.S., VimpelCom will be able to address the “Uzbek case” $775 million at the end of November last year, Bloomberg reported. The sources of the Agency then thought about a peace agreement could be announced as early as January 2016. The same thing in December 2015, said a source close to shareholders of the telecommunications company. Later, the newspaper Vedomosti has reported that VimpelCom is ready to plead guilty and pay $600 million in compensation in the United States.

In early February 2016 edition IntelliNews with reference to its sources reported that VimpelCom is preparing to announce the agreement for a peaceful settlement of the investigation and to pay in total (the authorities of both the US and Europe) just under $1 billion fine. About three-quarters of the total amount the company would pay in the USA and the rest of Europe, specified the edition. A source close to VimpelCom shareholders, and a source at a major telecommunications company then did not confirm the information about the impending peace agreement with the European authorities.

Representatives of Prosecutor’s office of the Netherlands, Ministry of justice and the Commission on securities and stock exchanges of the USA on Wednesday, 17 February, declined to comment.

Investigation of alleged bribes in the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan began in 2014 in the United States. Soon corruption case were also instituted by the authorities of the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. American law enforcement authorities suspected that three companies — VimpelCom, MTS and TeliaSonera — through front companies paid local official compensation for the Uzbek market (in particular, for licenses and frequencies). The name of the official in the investigation file were not disclosed, it speaks of a kinship with President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. Presumably we are talking about the President’s daughter Gulnara Karimova. The case also involves two people who are known to be close to Karimova, a civil husband Rustam Madumarov and close friend Gayane Avakyan.

The U.S. justice Department found that the patterns likely to be affiliated with Karimova has agreed with VimpelCom seven suspicious transactions amounting to $133.5 million, with MTS — a minimum of eight $380 million All trades were made in the period from January 2006 to October 2011, followed from the case.

The American side in 2015 has invited five European countries to freeze the assets of $1 billion, which may be related to the “Uzbek case” of corruption. It was about $640 million in Switzerland, $300 million in Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg, and $30 million in Sweden. In August of last year it became known that the Swiss authorities agreed to freeze assets associated with Gulnara Karimova, at the request of the United States. The exact amount was not named, but it was about the amount of less than $640 million requested by the U.S. authorities.

In early November 2015 in connection with case of corruption in Oslo was arrested former General Director of VimpelCom Jo Lunder, but soon he was released — “at the time of the investigation.” The police are interested in the transfer of $30 million to an account in Switzerland, the Lunder made two months after his appointment to the post of General Director of VimpelCom, told the lawyer of the former top Manager of Kato Sets Norwegian publication NRK. The Lunder shortly before the arrest he denied his involvement in this case.

MTS, in contrast to VimpelCom, did not reserve funds because of the investigation. The company in a press release attributed this to the IFRS standards, which prescribe that the provisions are recognised when there is a corresponding obligation — legal or actual — and if it is possible to estimate the amount of such obligations. Moreover, the representatives of MTS reported cooperation with authorities during the investigation. The possible outcome of the proceedings and of their possible peaceful resolution of the company not comment.