Report: VimpelCom Russia chief, other execs named in bribe probe
Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 7:08AM
The FCPA Blog in FCPA Today, Russia, Uzbekistan, VimpelCom

Mikhail Slobodin (Image courtesy of VimpelCom)There's news this morning about a rare Russian investigation into at least three high-profile executives accused of bribery.

One of the executives mentioned is the recently resigned VimpelCom Russia CEO.

Here's the item from Wednesday's FCPA Today:

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A huge bribery case is unfolding in Russia. Two executives from a company belonging to billionaire Viktor Vekselberg were detained by anti-bribery investigators in a probe involving the former governor of the Komi Republic and T Plus, an electricity generator operating in the region. The execs allegedly paid $12.3 million in bribes to officials in Russia’s Komi region for advantageous heating and electricity tariffs. Renova Group Managing Director Evgeny Olkhovik and T Plus head Boris Vainzikher, who were executives of the utility’s predecessor KES Holding, were detained.

In connection with the same case, Mikhail Slobodin, a former manager at KES who until yesterday was the chief executive of VimpelCom Russia, is also wanted for questioning. He resigned when the accusations were made public. Slobodin told Bloomberg he is currently on a business trip outside of Russia.

Earlier this year, VimpelCom paid $397.6 million to the DOJ and SEC for paying more than $114 million in bribes to a government official in Uzbekistan between 2006 and 2012.

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Amsterdam-based VimpelCom's February 2016 settlement is the sixth biggest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action in history.

In its deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ, the company agreed to "cooperate fully with the [DOJ's] ongoing investigation, including its investigation of individuals."

That raises the possibility the DOJ has shared some information with Russian prosecutors.

The DOJ in February filed civil forfeiture actions to recover $850 million in bribe money that VimpelCom, MTS of Russia, and TeliaSonera of Sweden allegedly paid to Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

The 78-year-old president reportedly died last week from a brain hemorrhage.

Karimova, 43, has been under house arrest in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent for corruption since September 2014. She hasn't been seen for several months and didn't attend her father's funeral.

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