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TeliaSonera under fire for dealings in Nepal

Teleoperator TeliaSonera tried to conceal doing business with the son-in-law of Nepal's king in 2008, writes Swedish magazine Veckans Affärer.

Image: YLE

TeliaSonera  bought the majority of shares of the Nepalese  teleoperator Ncell in 2008. According to Veckans Affärer, when TeliaSonera CEO Lars Nyberg presented the deal in 2008, the seller was said to be an investment company in Kazakhstan.

The magazine claims that this was incorrect information. In reality, the publication writes, the Ncell shares were sold by the son-in-law of Nepal’s king.

The Swedish economic magazine claims that TeliaSonera bought 51 percent of Ncell shares at a price of 3.2 billion crowns, or nearly 390 million euros. Later, in 2010, TeliaSonera bought more Ncell shares with 1.1 billion crowns, or about 133 million euros, writes Veckans Affärer.

The king’s son-in-law Raj Bahadur’s connections with Ncell are rather convoluted. In 2001, Nepal’s communications authorities said that Ncell would be granted a license. When the license was finally granted in 2004, Raj Bahadur had become the main shareholder of Ncell.

A few months after getting the licence, Raj Bahadur transferred his assets to foreign tax havens, says Veckans Affärer. The magazine claims that TeliaSonera made its deal with a tax haven company of this kind.

According to the Swedish magazine, TeliaSonera tried to conceal the fact that it did business with Nepal’s royal family.