Takilant Found Guilty of Taking Bribes From Telia, VimpelCom

  • Amsterdam court to confiscate $135 million from Takilant
  • Firm linked to Uzbek leader’s daughter focus of bribery probe

Takilant Ltd., a Gibraltar-registered company with ties to the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, was ordered to forfeit $135 million after a Dutch court found the firm guilty of accepting bribes from VimpelCom Ltd. and Telia AB in exchange for wireless frequencies.

The ruling is part of a wider, years-long investigation by U.S., Dutch, Swedish and Swiss authorities into claims that phone carriers VimpelCom, Telia and Mobile TeleSystems PJSC paid bribes in exchange for business and investment opportunities in Uzbekistan. The allegations have focused on Takilant, which is linked to Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of President Islam Karimov, according to court documents and people familiar with the matter.

Takilant was found guilty of complicity to bribery and forgery, a court ruled in Amsterdam on Wednesday. The company was found not guilty of money laundering as there was no evidence the money paid by VimpelCom and Telia came from criminal activities, the court said. It also ordered Takilant to pay a fine of 1.6 million euros ($1.8 million).

The Dutch prosecutor indicted Takilant for having received payments totaling more than 300 million euros to have a civil servant of the Uzbek Agency for Communications and Information grant permits to subsidiaries of VimpelCom and Telia.

“We don’t comment on court proceedings where we are not a party,” Neil Moorhouse, a spokesman for VimpelCom, said by e-mail. A representative of Telia didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The U.S. government is already seeking more than $550 million from Takilant, naming Karimova in an April complaint against the firm.

VimpelCom, which is partly owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and Norway’s Telenor ASA, pleaded guilty to violating U.S. corruption laws in February and agreed to a $795 million settlement with U.S. and Dutch authorities in a case related to its subsidiary in Uzbekistan.

The Dutch prosecutor is still investigating Telia.

The case is NL:RBAMS:2016:4520.

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