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U.S. Asks Sweden To Freeze Funds In Uzbek Bribery Probe

The United States has officially asked Swedish authorities to freeze more than $30 million in assets tied to investigations into possible bribery and money laundering involving Uzbek officials.

In a letter obtaned by RFE/RL from a Swedish investigative journalist, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that U.S. investigations had revealed that the Russian-Norwegian company VimpelCom, Russian-owned MTS, and Swedish-Finnish company TeliaSonera had "paid bribes to Uzbek officials to obtain mobile telecommunications business in Uzbekistan."

It said the investigations revealed that "funds involved in the scheme were laundered through shell companies around the world."

As part of an ongoing bribery investigation involving TeliaSonera, Swedish authorities have frozen more than $30 million.

TeliaSonera is at the center of allegations that millions of dollars were paid to Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, in exchange for access to the Central Asian nation's telecoms market.​