The Stockholm District Court decided Tuesday to freeze an additional $277 million in assets belonging to Uzbek associates of the embattled Swedish telecom TeliaSonera, which is fighting bribery charges in Sweden and a money laundering investigation in Switzerland.
The Uzbek suspects are representatives of Takilant Ltd, TeliaSonera’s local partner in Uzbekistan, which took a payment of $320 million in 2007 in return for issuing TeliaSonera the 3G license it would need to operate in Uzbekistan.
The District Court’s decision comes after the Court of Appeals ruled January 16 that although the Uzbek defendants never set foot in Sweden, their electronic correspondence with Swedish business partners gave the Swedish court jurisdiction over their crimes. The amount of money frozen Tuesday is unprecedented in Swedish history, according to the Swedish News Agency (TT).
Swedish News noted that Takilant Ltd retains a board position and a stake, worth about $76 million, in the Netherlands holding company that runs TeliaSonera’s Uzbek subsidiary, and that under its 2007 agreement with TeliaSonera, Takilant has the right to sell that stake back to TeliaSonera before February 15 of this year. The prosecution will likely aim to freeze that money in the next steps of their investigation, Swedish News reported.