Russia telecoms giant MTS to pay $850 mn in US corruption case


Moscow (AFP)

Russia's leading telecoms firm said Thursday it had agreed to pay $850 million to settle a US corruption case over huge bribes paid to the family of Uzbekistan's former president.

The case shed light on massive corruption in Uzbekistan under former president Islam Karimov, who ruled the ex-Soviet nation from 1989 until his death in 2016.

MTS, based in Moscow and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, said the settlement had been agreed with the US Justice Department and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The deals "mark the closure of the investigations into the company's acquisition and operation of its former subsidiary in Uzbekistan," MTS said in a statement.

The SEC said that MTS had bribed an Uzbek official related to Karimov in order to obtain and retain business operations in Uzbekistan, a Central Asian nation of more than 32 million people.

"The company engaged in egregious misconduct for nearly a decade, secretly funnelling hundreds of millions of dollars to a corrupt official," the SEC said in a statement.