TeliaSonera fires CFO, three others after Eurasia review

TeliaSonera said it has terminated the employment contracts of four senior employees, including its chief financial officer, following a wider review conducted by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright into business practices at its Eurasian operations.

CFO Per-Arne Blomquist will leave his position with immediate effect. Christian Luiga, currently head of the CEO office, will assume the position as acting CFO in the meantime, and the process has now started to find a new permanent CFO. The names of the other three senior employees have not been revealed.

The Swedish-based company appointed Norton Rose in April to carry out a review of the transactions and agreements made over the past few years by TeliaSonera and partners in Eurasia. While the review is still ongoing, the company said information and conclusions to date indicate that the processes for conducting some transactions have not been in line with sound business practices.

"The board's conclusion is that some senior employees no longer have the trust of the board," said Marie Ehrling, board chairwoman. "Therefore they have been notified that their employment with TeliaSonera will be terminated and they will leave their position effective immediately."

Ehrling added that it is not the board's task to assess the legal aspects, but said it has decided to hand over the material from the Norton Rose Fulbright review to the Swedish Prosecutor's office.

It has not been revealed exactly what the employees did or in which markets TeliaSonera units were found to have carried out transactions that did not comply with sound business ethics. The company said it will continue to review transactions made over the past few years in its Eurasia unit, which operates in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and other former Soviet and Asian countries.

In an analyst conference call, President and CEO Johan Dennelind stressed that the Norton Rose review excluded Uzbekistan but revealed not dissimilar patterns in "more than one" markets other than Uzbekistan in relation to risk assessment.

Former TeliaSonera CEO Lars Nyberg stepped down in February after a review by lawyers censured the company over corruption allegations related to the operator's purchase of a phone licence in Uzbekistan.

Dennelind, who also stressed that the findings of the Norton Rose review are related to transactions and not to the running of the businesses, said he now hoped that most of the major remedies have been carried out. "The ambition is to conclude all this in Q1," he said.

TeliaSonera's Eurasia unit accounted for around 19 per cent of total sales in 2012. The operator has previously encountered heavy criticism for some of its activities in these markets, such as allowing authorities in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to access its networks to keep tabs on anti-government activists.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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