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US request on blocking accounts in EU over Uzbekistan case does not cover Vimpelcom assets

August 14, 2015, 21:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The US Department of Justice earlier applied to the Swiss authorities with a request to arrest $640 mln on bank accounts, which "may be involved in corrupt practices" of Vimpelcom, MTS and TeliaSonera

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© ITAR-TASS Archive/Denis Vyshynsky

MOSCOW, August 14. /TASS/. The US request on arresting around $1 bln on bank accounts in a number of European countries related to investigation over complicity of mobile operators Vimpelcom, MTS and TeliaSonera for corruption in Uzbekistan operations, does not cover Vimpelcom assets, a source in Vimpelcom Ltd. press service told TASS on Friday.

"We’re familiar with the fact that the US authorities requested recovery of funds, which were partly tied with Takilant. Vimpelcom is not defendant on this case, which does not concern assets owned by Vimpelcom at the moment. As we reported in documents filed to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Vimpelcom earlier cooperated with Takilant within its business operations in Uzbekistan. We continue cooperation with authorities regarding this investigation. As the investigation proceeds this is all we can report," the company said.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Department of Justice applied to the Swiss authorities with a request to arrest $640 mln on bank accounts, which "may be involved in corrupt practices" of those 3 mobile operators. The same request was filed by the US to Sweden where $30 mln on a bank account fell under suspicion.

The press service of Russia’s top mobile operator MTS refused to comment.

As was reported earlier the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in Manhattan court in New York requesting to block $300 mln due to investigation regarding complicity of mobile operators Vimpelcom and MTS to corruption in Uzbekistan operations.

According to the US authorities who joined the investigation launched in the European Union /EU/, the funds in question may have been obtained as a result of acts of corruption. Vimpelcom and MTS were allegedly involved by using a chain of front companies and artificial consultancy transactions to pay bribes to close relatives of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov in exchange for access to the country’s telecommunications market, Bloomberg news agency then reported. The funds are partially owned by Takilant Ltd., which is associated with daughter of Uzbekistan’s President Gulnara Karimova.

VimpelCom is one of the world’s largest integrated telecommunications services operators providing voice and data services through a range of traditional and broadband mobile and fixed technologies in Russia, Italy, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Algeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic and Canada. VimpelCom’s operations around the globe cover territory with a total population of approximately 753 million people. VimpelCom provides services under the "Beeline", "Kyivstar", "djuice", "WIND", "Infostrada", "Mobilink", "Leo", "banglalink", "Telecel", and "Djezzy" brands. VimpelCom is traded on the NASDAQ Global Stock Market.

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