Monday, March 18, 2019

Mobile TeleSystems Settles FCPA Violations

Russian telecommunications provider Mobile TeleSystems PJSC (MTS) will pay $100 million to resolve SEC charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to win business in Uzbekistan.

According to the SEC’s order, MTS bribed an Uzbek official who was related to the former President of Uzbekistan and had influence over the Uzbek telecommunications regulatory authority. During the course of the scheme, MTS made at least $420 million in illicit payments for the purpose of obtaining and retaining business. The payments enabled MTS to enter the telecommunications market in Uzbekistan and operate there for eight years, during which it generated more than $2.4 billion in revenues. In 2012, the Uzbek government expropriated MTS’s Uzbek operations. As further described in the SEC’s order, the bribes were funneled to front companies controlled by the Uzbek official and were disguised in MTS’s books as acquisition costs, option payments, purchases of regulatory assets, and charitable donations.

“The company engaged in egregious misconduct for nearly a decade, secretly funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to a corrupt official. Building business on a foundation of bribery leaves the business and American investor interests at the mercy of corrupt officials,” said Charles E. Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit.

Read the full article from the SEC here.

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