April 11, 2021

Global telecom company’s DPA ends and criminal information dismissed

On April 5, 2021, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss the criminal information against Telia Company AB, a multinational telecommunications company based in Sweden, after federal prosecutors declared that Telia had fully complied with its obligations under its three-year Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the US Department of Justice.  In 2017, the company entered into the DPA to resolve allegations that its Uzbek subsidiary Coscom LLC had participated in a global bribery scheme in which $331 million in bribe payments had been made to an Uzbek government official in exchange for entry into the Uzbek telecom market and the ability to operate their telecom business in Uzbekistan.  In its motion, the DOJ stated that the dismissal of the information was appropriate because Telia had successfully implemented an enhanced compliance program, fully cooperated with the DOJ’s bribery investigation, and paid the $548 million criminal monetary penalty to the US government, fully satisfying the requirements of the DPA.

Under the DPA, Telia and Coscom admitted that between 2007 and 2010, employees and affiliates made improper payments to an Uzbek official who had a close relative with influence in the Uzbek telecom industry.  The bribes were allegedly concealed through multiple payments to a shell company that Telia and Coscom management knew was beneficially owned by the Uzbek official. In addition to Telia entering into a DPA, Coscom pleaded guilty in September 2017 to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.  Telia also reached separate settlements with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Dutch Openbaar Ministrie, and the Swedish Prosecution Authority, agreeing to pay the four agencies more than $965 million in total criminal and regulatory penalties.  

In February of 2019 in a separate but related matter, the Stockholm District Court tried and acquitted three of Telia’s former executives of bribery charges because prosecutors failed to prove that the recipient of the alleged bribes was a public official.  The Stockholm court also dismissed a $208.5 million confiscation claim against Telia.

Government’s Unopposed Motion to Dismiss Information | Deferred Prosecution Agreement |Information | DOJ Press Release (2017) | SEC Press Release (2017)