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Stockholm Court Upholds Telia Acquittals In Gulnara Karimova Case

Gulnara Karimova was once seen as a potential successor to her father, Islam Karimov, the late president of Uzbekistan who died in 2016. (file photo)

A court in Stockholm has upheld the acquittals of three former senior officials at the telecom giant Telia in a case involving approximately $320 million payments made to Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan's late President Islam Karimov.

Lars Nyberg, the former chief executive officer of Telia, and two other men were accused of bribing a local business partner in Uzbekistan between 2007 and 2010, which they denied.

Stockholm's court of appeals on February 4 upheld a lower court ruling to acquit the three men.

The trio went on trial in September 2018 and were acquitted in mid-February 2019.

The Stockholm District Court ruled at the time that the defendants could not be convicted as it had not been proven that Karimova held any official position connected to the telecom sector, which had been the prosecutor's main argument.

Former Telia CEO Lars Nyberg (file photo)
Former Telia CEO Lars Nyberg (file photo)

Nyberg, along with Telia's former adviser for Eurasia, Olli Tuohimaa, and the company's former deputy chief, Tero Kivisaari, were charged in 2017 after the Stockholm-based company agreed to pay nearly $1 billion in penalties to help settle the yearslong corruption probe.

Telia is not the only international telecom company that has been accused of bribing Uzbek officials.

In February 2017, Dutch-based VimpelCom, which was controlled by a Russian-owned holding company, agreed to pay $795 million to resolve U.S. and Dutch bribery charges.

Karimova, 48, once seen as a possible successor to Islam Karimov, was placed under house arrest in Tashkent in 2014 while her father was still alive and running the country. Karimov died in 2016 and was succeeded by President Shavkat Mirziyoev.

In December 2017, Karimova was sentenced to a 10-year prison term, but the this was later changed to house arrest and shortened to five years. She was placed in jail in March 2019 for allegedly violating the terms of her confinement.

In March 2020, Karimova received an additional 13 years and four months in prison after being found guilty of extortion, money laundering, and other crimes.

With reporting by Sverigesradio and Telecompaper