UPDATE 1-TeliaSonera starts legal review of Uzbek licence deal
* Appoints external investigators
* Will check if corruption, money laundering involved
(Adds detail, background)
STOCKHOLM, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Nordic telecoms firm TeliaSonera said on Wednesday it had appointed lawyers to investigate allegations of wrongdoing related to its purchase of a 3G licence in Uzbekistan in 2007.
Late in September, Swedish prosecutors launched a preliminary investigation into the 2.3 billion crown ($348 million) deal.
"Mannheimer Swartling have been asked by TeliaSonera to investigate whether TeliaSonera's investment in a 3G-licence, frequencies and number series in Uzbekistan in 2007 involved any form of corruption or money laundering," TeliaSonera said in a statement.
Telia also said it had appointed Sweden's former ambassador to Russia, Tomas Bertelman, as a strategic advisor on matters related to the company's operations in Central Asia.
Telia, in which the Swedish state owns a roughly 37 percent stake, has come under scrutiny in recent months over its activities in central Asia.
The most recent allegations, made in a Swedish TV programme, were that Telia bought its Uzbek 3G licence from a firm reported to have close ties with the daughter of Uzbek president Islam Karimov.
Karimov has ruled his gas-rich republic since independence from the Soviet Union two decades ago.
Russian telecoms operator MTS has run into trouble in the country, having had its Uzbek licence withdrawn and the assets confiscated.
Telia has denied any wrongdoing and CEO Lars Nyberg has staked his job on the company being exonerated.
"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," Nyberg said in the statement.
Earlier this year, Telia was the subject of stinging criticism from the Swedish state for allowing authorities in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Uzbekistan to access its networks to keep tabs on anti-government activists.
($1 = 6.6036 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by David Cowell)