Amsterdam-based international telecoms giant Vimpelcom Ltd has announced that it is under investigation by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over its activities in Uzbekistan, where it operates under the Beeline brand name. In parallel, the company’s Dutch headquarters has been visited by the Dutch authorities, including the public prosecutor’s office, who have informed the company that it is the focus of a criminal investigation in the Netherlands. In a brief media statement, Vimpelcom said that it intends to fully cooperate with these investigations.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in December 2013 Beeline Uzbekistan was given a clean bill of health following a two-month investigation into its financial and operating activities by local tax regulators. A source from the state tax committee told the local press: ‘The inspection is complete. The company has received a resolution with some criticism… but no violations of the tax legislation have been found.’ The audit had begun at the start of October and was then extended for a further month at the beginning of November. It followed on the heels of another probe, this time by the State Inspectorate of Communications (GIS), following which the operator was told that 460 base stations built in 2013 could not be used because it had not received the proper authorisations from the regulator.