×

UPDATE 1-TeliaSonera submits evidence of Uzbek license owner

* Says documents show Takilant was owner of licenses

* Handelsbanken denies own probe of the deal

(Adds detail, background, Handelsbanken comment)

By Sven Nordenstam and Veronica Ek

STOCKHOLM, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Nordic telecoms company TeliaSonera said it has supplied Swedish prosecutors with evidence that Gibraltar firm Takilant, from which it bought telecom licenses in Uzbekistan, was the rightful owner of these licenses at the time.

Swedish prosecutors in a court filing this week raised doubts about whether Takilant had actually owned the licenses acquired by TeliaSonera.

Swedish prosecutors last month opened a preliminary investigation into TeliaSonera's purchase after a Swedish television programme alleged the company had bought the license from a firm with close ties to the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

TeliaSonera, in which the Swedish state is the biggest shareholder with a 37 percent stake, has denied it did anything wrong and has said it is co-operating fully with authorities.

A Swedish account containing $30 million held by Takilant has been frozen by the prosecutors, who have also sought authorization to freeze Takilant assets worth at least 1.55 billion Swedish crowns ($236 million).

Court documents had also cited an investigation by Swedish bank Handelsbanken which the prosecutor said had shown there was no evidence that Takilant ever owned a telecom license in the central Asian country.

But Handelsbanken denied it had carried out an investigation of the deal beyond two short comments written by its equity research department after the television programme about the deal.

"The basis for Handelsbanken's analysts' comments was externally available sources, such as TeliaSonera's published financial accounts, Google etc," the company said in a statement.

Thomas Jonsson, TeliaSonera's head of brand and external communications, said the ownership information submitted to the prosecutors was "official documentation" from authorities in Uzbekistan.

TeliaSonera has said it will carry out an independent investigation of the 2.3 billion crown deal which Jonsson said would begin within a matter of days.

($1 = 6.5676 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Sven Nordenstam and Veronica Ek; Writing by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

((Niklas.Pollard@thomsonreuters.com)(+46 70721 1110)(Reuters Messaging: niklas.pollard.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: TELIASONERA UZBEKISTAN/