TeliaSonera has acknowledged that some of its activities in various countries may have been illegal.
The admission was prompted by the various investigations into its Uzbekistan operation by authorities in the Netherlands, Sweden and the US.
Marie Ehrling, chair of the operator’s board, stated that a review by legal firm Norton Rose Fulbright had found evidence of “problems” with TeliaSonera’s dealings in various markets, including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Nepal and Tajikistan.
“The board can unfortunately say that several transactions and practices have not been handled in accordance with good business practice,” Ehrling said. “It cannot be excluded that certain actions have been criminal.”
The report tightens the screws for Lars Nyberg, the company’s CEO for the 2013 fiscal year. TeliaSonera’s annual general meeting concluded that Nyberg could well be accountable for the misconduct.
The Swedish state, which owns a 37% stake in the operator, concurred. State secretary Erik Thedeen noted: “We as owners today lack information to say whether Lars Nyberg in his role as CEO in January 2013 failed in his duties and thus can be held liable.”
However, the meeting found neither the board of directors during Nyberg’s tenure nor the previous CEOs Johan Dennelind and Per-Arne Blomquist to be liable of misconduct. Nyberg stepped down in February 2013 following an external review which deemed the operator’s 2007 purchase of its Uzbeki mobile licence to have been incautious.
While TeliaSonera has previously maintained that its actions were legal, Swedish prosecutors are currently trying to establish whether the operator knew or should have known that fee it paid for its Uzbeki licence went to the family of President Islam Karimov.