AKIPRESS.COM - MTS, Russia’s largest mobile operator, has agreed to pay $850m in criminal and civil fines to settle US investigations into alleged bribery, FT reports.
The company, which has a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange, has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice, with a former subsidiary pleading guilty in federal court.
It also consented to an order by the Securities and Exchange Commission that said MTS made at least $420m in payments to an official in Uzbekistan to obtain entry to the country’s telecommunications market.
The investigation into the conduct from 2004 to 2012 had been previously disclosed by MTS, which said the $850m had been reserved in its results for the third quarter of 2018.
“The company engaged in egregious misconduct for nearly a decade, secretly funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to a corrupt official,” said Charles Cain, chief of the SEC unit that investigates violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit.
The settlement includes the imposition of an independent compliance monitor for at least three years. MTS ended operations in Uzbekistan in 2016.
Alexey Kornya, chief executive of MTS, said the resolution was in the company’s best interests.
“The resolution and settlement allow MTS to focus fully on the implementation of MTS’ business strategy to be a first-in-class digital telecom company,” he said in a statement.