Russia's VimpelCom to pay $835 mn over corruption charges

18th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

Russia's VimpelCom has agreed to pay $835 million to settle US and Dutch charges it paid massive bribes to get into the Uzbekistan telecommunications market, the US Justice department announced Thursday.

The huge Russian mobile phone operator, controlled by billionaire Mikhail Fridman, was accused under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of paying more than $114 million to a "relative" of Uzbek President Islam Karimov between 2006 and 2012 for mobile phone licenses and frequencies.

The Justice Department also said it had moved to seize $850 million in Swiss and other European accounts controlled by the relative that came from bribes paid by VimpelCom and other companies doing business in Uzbekistan.

Karimov's eldest daughter Gulnara Karimova was placed under house arrest two years ago as she was probed for corruption, a spectacular fall from grace for the flamboyant figure who once served as the country's envoy to the United Nations, as well as dabbling in fashion design and pop music.

US officials were unwilling to identify the relative involved in the VimpelCom case.

The settlement includes $167.5 million for the US Securities and Exchange Commission, $230.1 million for the Department of Justice, and $397.5 million to the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands.

"These cases combine a landmark FCPA resolution for corporate bribery with one of the largest forfeiture actions we have ever brought to recover bribe proceeds from a corrupt government official," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.

© 2016 AFP

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