In an effort to target what U.S. prosecutors consider the spoils of alleged corrupt activities overseas, it is asking European law enforcement institutions to seize close to $1 billion in assets related to a far reaching criminal probe alleging corruption by telecom companies from three European countries linked to Gulnara Karimova, the Uzbekistan’s president’s daughter.
Not content with simply harassing U.S. companies operating overseas anymore, American law enforcement has now started targeting alleged corruption by foreign companies and non-U.S. citizens as well. The expansion has now grown to U.S. based assets that are, in some cases, tenuously linked to overseas corruption. Last year, they disclosed telecom related investigations as a part of ongoing inquiries already underway by European authorities.
According to court documentation, U.S. authorities believe that three companies, Vimpelcom Ltd. from the Netherlands, Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems PJSC and TeliaSonera AB from Sweden, channeled hundreds of millions of dollars directly to businesses controlled by the daughter of President Islam Karimov, in order to secure wireless frequencies and similar deals in Uzbekistan to influence control over the estimated $1.8 billion telecoms market.
While it might seem like an overreach, the investigational jurisdiction is based on the fact that both Vimpelcom and Mobile TeleSystems securities trade in the U.S, and that TeliaSenora, can be subject to U.S. jurisdiction as its deals directly, and receives financing from, other U.S companies
Between 2004 and 2011, it is alleged that these three companies were helped by Karimova to obtain wireless frequencies and blocks of phone numbers. In exchange,, they are said to have paid bribes to a number of front or shell companies run by intermediaries close to Karimova. Companies that should have no authority awarding or trading in state controlled wireless frequencies.
Whether the allegations are true or not is largely irrelevant and will get solved eventually, what is interesting is how the U.S. is now poking its nose even further in other countries businesses while it still gets flack at home for failing to properly regulate its own.