Sweden-based telecommunications provider Telia Company AB has agreed to pay $965 million in a global settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Department of Justice, and Dutch and Swedish law enforcement to resolve charges related to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to win business in Uzbekistan.
According to the SEC’s order, Telia entered the Uzbek telecommunications market by offering and paying at least $330 million in bribes to a shell company under the guise of payments for lobbying and consulting services that never actually occurred. The shell company was controlled by an Uzbek government official who was a family member of the President of Uzbekistan and in a position to exert significant influence over other Uzbek officials, causing them to take official actions to benefit Telia’s business in Uzbekistan.
“Corporate bribery is not just unfair and illegal, it has terribly corrosive effects on business, government, and society,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “As this global settlement demonstrates, the SEC continues to work closely with our counterparts at home and abroad to expose and pursue such corruption.”
Telia consented to the SEC’s order requiring the company to pay $457 million in disgorgement, and the company also agreed to pay a criminal fine of more than $508 million imposed by the Department of Justice. Portions of each amount could be offset by payments made in overseas settlements or proceedings brought by the Dutch Openbaar Ministerie or the Swedish Åklagarmyndigheten. Telia’s overall payment to the four agencies must be at least $965 million.
The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Sections as well as the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, Dutch Openbaar Ministerie, National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime in Norway, Swedish Prosecution Authority, Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland, and Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in Latvia. The SEC also appreciates the assistance from regulators and law enforcement in France, Spain, and Hong Kong as well as the Financial Conduct Authority, British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission, Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, Bermuda Monetary Authority, Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, and Central Bank of Ireland.