Telia pays remaining 208,500,000 USD from confiscation amount to Dutch Public Prosecution Service
Telia Company AB (hereinafter: Telia) has paid 208,500,000 US Dollars to the Public Prosecution Service (OM) in the Netherlands. The payment was made as part of the out-of-court settlement accepted in September 2017 by the Swedish Telecom company.
It was agreed in the out-of-court settlement that the three subsidiary companies of Telia established in the Netherlands would pay 274,000,000 USD to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service. The Public Prosecution Service had accused them of corrupting public officials and the forgery of documents around the time of and following the entry by Telia onto the Uzbek telecom market. An investigation by the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) revealed that in the period between 2007 and 2010, bribes were allegedly paid to the eldest daughter of the then president of Uzbekistan.
In parallel to the Dutch settlement, there were other out-of-court settlements with the American Department of Justice (DOJ) and the American financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Crime must not be allowed to pay
The investigations in the Netherlands and the US set the amount of criminal earnings at 457,000,000 USD. Of that amount, Telia paid 208,500,000 USD to the SEC, and 40,000,000 US Dollars forfeiture to the DOJ. The remaining confiscated amount of 208,500,000 USD was to be paid at a later stage to Sweden or the Netherlands, depending on the outcome of the Swedish legal proceedings against Telia. The aim was to offer the Scandinavian country the maximum opportunity to confiscate part of the criminal earnings from Telia. Sweden does not have a system of out-of-court settlements like that in the Netherlands. In Sweden, the case had to be taken to court. For the Netherlands, it is not relevant in which country the criminal benefits end up, as long as they are confiscated. In the Dutch out-of-court settlement, it was specified that if the confiscation proceedings in Sweden did not deliver a result within a time limit of 540 days, for whatever reason, then the remaining amount of 208,500,000 USD would still be paid by Telia to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service.
In February, the court in Sweden passed a judgement in the case brought by Sweden against two Swedish senior executives of Telia. The Swedish court acquitted them of corruption. The main reason was that Gulnara Karimova the daughter of the former Uzbek president could not be classified as a civil servant, according to Swedish anti-corruption legislation. The consequence, however, is that Sweden was not able to confiscate the criminal earnings from Telia, within the deadline set. In accordance with the out-of-court settlement agreement, therefore, the reserved 208,500,000 USD has been paid to the Netherlands.
Tackling corruption on an international scale
Corruption leads to unfair competition and represents a serious threat to the integrity of government, with considerable moral and political consequences. Corruption damages free market principles and represents a threat to international stability. International corruption can only be tackled if each country takes its responsibility. The investigation into Telia started in 2013 and was undertaken by the FIOD, under the auspices of the National Office for Serious Fraud, Environment Crime and Asset Confiscation (Functioneel Parket). In parallel to the Dutch investigation, an investigation was also undertaken by the American Department of Justice (DOJ), the American financial supervisor the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Swedish Public Prosecution Service. This parallel action shows that corruption will not be tolerated and will be tackled internationally within the capabilities of the various countries. The revenue from corruption will be confiscated and companies receive hefty fines.