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2019-03-08

US fines Russian telecom giant for bribing Gulnara Karimova

AFP

NEW YORK -- US prosecutors Thursday (March 7) reached an $850 million (7.1 trillion UZS) settlement with Russia's leading telecom firm over bribes paid to the family of Uzbekistan's former president -- and charged the late leader's daughter in related proceedings.

The case shed light on corruption under Islam Karimov, who ruled Uzbekistan from 1990 until his death in 2016.

MTS, based in Moscow and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, said the settlement had been agreed with the US Justice Department and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Charges were also filed against Karimov's daughter Gulnara Karimova in connection with a decade-long scheme to pay her more than $865 million (7.3 trillion UZS) in bribes, prosecutors said in a statement.

Karimova is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, along with Bekhzod Akhmedov, 44, former general director of Uzdunrobita, which became MTS's subsidiary in Uzbekistan.

Akhmedov sought bribes for Karimova from telecom firms "between approximately 2001 and 2012", the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said in a statement.

Akhmedov lives in Russia. Karimova was sentenced to five years of house arrest in Uzbekistan in 2017. However, this week, authorities took her to prison for violating the terms of her house arrest.

MTS was in a long-running dispute with the Uzbek authorities, who seized its Uzbek subsidiary in 2012 for alleged tax evasion. The subsidiary filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

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Comment bubble | 2019-03-11

It turns out that Russia is bribing its way to the domestic markets of other countries

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