TeliaSonera execs leave in wake of Eurasia scandal

European operator group TeliaSonera has announced that four senior employees have left the firm as a consequence of some of its transactions “not being in line with sound business practices”.  CFO Per-Arne Blomquist will leave his position effective immediately as will Tero Kivisaari, the former head of the operator’s Eurasia region. The other two executives involved were not named by the firm.

Late last year, TeliaSonera attracted criticism over allegations of corruption involving its operations in Uzbekistan. Although a review by law firm Mannheimer Swartling did not find that TeliaSonera had been involved in bribery or money laundering, the law firm criticised TeliaSonera for failing to conduct a sufficiently in-depth analysis into the identity of the local partner in Uzbekistan before investing. The review led to former CEO Lars Nyberg leaving the firm.

The four latest departures follow a review by international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright which investigated the group’s transactions in Eurasia to assess the business ethics of the transactions. Although the review is still ongoing, the TeliaSonera Board has decided that the four executives “no longer have the trust of the board”, according to Marie Ehrling, chairman of the board.

“Therefore they have been notified that their employment with TeliaSonera will be terminated and they will leave their position effective immediately,” she said. “It is not the Board’s task to assess the legal aspects, but we have decided to hand over the material from the Norton Rose Fulbright review to the prosecutor’s office as part of our continuous dialogue.”

Christian Luiga, who is currently head of the CEO Office, will assume the position as acting CFO. Kivisaari, meanwhile, had been appointed head of business area mobility after his tenure as head of Eurasia, but was relieved of these duties in October this year. Sverker Hannervall was been appointed acting president of business area mobility services at TeliaSonera, while Kivisaari was to take on other duties in the Group.

“Tero Kivisaari’s role in TeliaSonera’s criticized investments in Uzbekistan, and the attention surrounding them, has made it impossible for him to act with the internal and external authority necessary for the president of the largest business area of TeliaSonera,” CEO Johan Dennelind said at the time.

In a more recent statement, Dennelind added that he and the board concluded that the way “some transactions in the past were managed does not live up to the high standards of business ethics and transparency that TeliaSonera wants to stand for”.

“Based on Norton Rose Fulbright’s findings I am taking necessary actions. It is the responsibility of all our employees, including senior management, to ensure that we maintain high standards of business ethics and to implement necessary governance and compliance to uphold them. Going forward we need strong leadership on all levels to create a sound culture.”

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