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The Netherlands is a key intermediary jurisdiction in the Uzbekistan telecoms bribery scandal. Two out of the three multinational telecommunication companies that acknowledge paying bribes to the Karimova group, have a significant tie to the Netherlands. VimpelCom is headquartered in Netherlands, while Swedish telecoms firm TeliaSonera operates a subsidiary in the Netherlands that in turn owned Coscom LLC in Uzbekistan. 

The Dutch Department of Justice reached settlements with VimpelCom and TeliaSonera, where both companies agreed to fines. In addition, the Department of Justice prosecuted Takilant Limited a Gibraltar company owned by Gulnara Karimova through a nominee shareholder. Takilant Limited was subsequently found guilty of bribery, as a result it paid a fine, while the Dutch government seized its 6% shareholding in Coscom. 

In December 2018 TeliaSonera divested its 94% interest in Coscom LLC to the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Assistance to Privatized Enterprises and Development of Competition for US$215 million. It appears from the subsequent Uzbekistani Presidential Decree 4986, dated 10 February 2021, that the Government of Uzbekistan also acquired the 6% interest in Coscom LLC previously held by the Dutch Government. The Decree notes the Uzbekistani government intended to transfer Coscom LLC to a joint-venture company, Digital Holding LLC. Media reports indicate the 51% joint-venture partner is Digital Invest LLC, which is equally owned by Russia’s Megafon and USM Telecom, companies reportedly controlled by oligarch Alisher Usmanov who has been sanctioned by the UK and US governments, as well as the EU. Digital Invest has committed to making a US $100 million investment in Digital Holding LLC.

On 25 February 2022 a letter was sent from civil society to the Dutch Minister of Justice, requesting information on the return of the confiscated 6% shareholding in Coscom LLC to the Government of Uzbekistan. As yet, no reply has been received. 

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