TeliaSonera backs Nyberg, denies bribery allegations

Scandinavian operator TeliaSonera (Stockholm, Sweden) has been forced to affirm its support for chief executive Lars Nyberg after press reports suggested the operator had hired a recruitment consultant to find his replacement.

Nyberg has been caught up in a scandal surrounding TeliaSonera’s operation in Uzbekistan, where it stands accused of bribery and money laundering.

Scandinavian operator TeliaSonera (Stockholm, Sweden) has been forced to affirm its support for chief executive Lars Nyberg after press reports suggested the operator had hired a recruitment consultant to find his replacement.

Nyberg has been caught up in a scandal surrounding TeliaSonera’s operation in Uzbekistan, where it stands accused of bribery and money laundering.

Last week, following a meeting with the Swedish Parliament’s Committee on Industry and Trade, Nyberg issued a statement in which he said: “I am completely convinced there are no grounds to the corruption allegations directed at the company and we cooperate fully with the authorities regarding the ongoing investigation.”

TeliaSonera does not deny that it is already looking to replace Nyberg, but insists this has nothing to do with the current dispute in Uzbekistan. “Lars Nyberg’s current contract expires in December 2013,” said Anders Narvinger, in a statement. “To find a replacement for a CEO of one of Sweden’s largest corporations is a long process which the Board initiated before the current debate started.”

Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter appears to be the original source of reports that linked the appointment of a recruitment consultant to find a replacement for Nyberg with the allegations emanating from Uzbekistan.

In the meantime, TeliaSonera has hired Mannheimer Swartling, a law firm, to investigate whether its Uzbek operation’s investment in a 3G licence in 2007 involved any form of corruption or money laundering.

“The allegations directed at TeliaSonera are very serious and therefore it is important that an independent party now reviews the transaction and truly gets to the bottom of all allegations and rumours which have flourished in recent weeks,” said Nyberg. “At the same time, we will of course on all fronts cooperate with the police in its investigation, so that no questions remain as to whether we paid bribes or participated in money laundering.”

TeliaSonera has also hired Tomas Bertelman, Sweden’s former ambassador to Russia, to act as a strategic advisor on matters relating to operations in central Asia.

“We operate in markets that are considered to be high risk,” said Narvinger. “Therefore, we have decided to bring in external expertise to make better assessments.”