Three former executives of telecom company Telia were acquitted Friday of paying bribes in Uzbekistan, with the Swedish court citing lack of evidence.
The executives were accused of bribing an Uzbek partner from 2007 to 2010 when Telia, then known as TeliaSonera, set up business in the country. Prosecutors alleged that, Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president of the time, was the beneficial owner of the Uzbek company.
Judge Tomas Zander of the Stockholm District Court said “it has not been proven that Gulnara Karimova held any such position with connection to the telecom sector, which has been the prosecutor’s main argument.”
The court confirmed that there had been contracts and payments to accounts of a company called Takilant Ltd., which was confirmed to have links to Karimova.
“However, the district court has found that the indictment in other parts lacked clarity and that there are gaps in the investigation,” it wrote.
The defendants included Lars Nyberg, CEO of the company at the time, when it was called TeliaSonera. All have denied wrongdoing.
In a statement, Telia’s board chairman, Marie Ehrling, said that even though Telia itself is not being prosecuted, the case “has of course affected the company.”
The Stockholm-based company in 2017 agreed to pay $965 million in fines to various regulators to settle the Uzbek corruption case. U.S. and Dutch authorities had concluded Telia’s conduct was in violation of national laws.