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CORRUPTION

Yara execs charged for bribing Gaddafi minister

Norwegian police said on Friday that four former executives of Yara, the world's biggest mineral fertiliser producer, had been indicted for "aggravated corruption" in Libya and India.

Yara execs charged for bribing Gaddafi minister
Thorleif Enger photographed shortly before his retirement as Yara CEO in 2008 - Morten Holm / Scanpix
 The management team is accused of bribing "a Libyan minister and a senior Indian official" with $8 million (5.9 million euros), the police said in a statement.
   
Yara said two days earlier that it had been hit by a fine of 295 million kroner (35.4 million euros, $48.3 million) for these and other payments to Russia, made via a Swiss subsidiary.
   
In total, the bribes amounted to around $12 million between 2004 and 2009.
 
The identities of the executives have not been officially disclosed, but local financial daily DN published four names on Friday.
   
Apart from two Norwegians Thorleif Enger and Tor Holba — the chief executive and head of division at the time — whose involvement was previously known to the police , the paper also points to the company's legal chief US-citizen Ken Wallace and Frenchman Daniel Clauw, the chief operating officer.
 
Yara did not report the corruption allegations until 2011, despite having heard about them in 2008.
   
The bribes related to Yara's effort to create a joint venture in India in 2006-2007, which ultimately failed. In Libya, the company allegedly made suspect payments to a minister in the Kadhafi regime just ahead of creating another joint venture.

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CORRUPTION

Telenor CEO was behind chairman exit

The incoming chief executive of Norwegian telecoms company Telenor himself uncovered the suspicious information that forced the resignation of the company’s chairman on Friday, Norway’s VG newspaper has reported.

Telenor CEO was behind chairman exit
Telenor chief executive Sigve Brekke at the company's results last week. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix
Sigve Brekke, who took up the chief executive position this August, told the newspaper that he had discovered documents concerning the company’s chairman Svein Aaser while working on the sale process of Telenor’s share in Vimpelcom, the scandal-hit Russian telecoms operator. 
 
“I saw some matters that I found it appropriate to inform the board about,” Brekker said. “This was information that the board believed was so important that they wanted to take it to the Minister of Industry,” Brekke said. 
 
US and Dutch authorities have accused VimpelCom, in which Telenor has a 33 percent interest, of paying bribes between 2007 and 2011 to obtain business in Uzbekistan.
 
Swedish prosecutors have put the suspected payments at $55 million, but Telenor in February published a copy of an anonymous email passed to Norway’s trade ministry which argued that Vimpelcom could have paid closer to $300m. 
 
In January Aaser and the company’s previous chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas told a parliamentary hearing in Norway that Telenor had not found any proof of corruption in Uzbekistan. 
 
On Sunday Brekke said Telenor had hired a Norwegian law firm to carry out an investigation of Telenor’s role in Vimpelcom since it bought its stake in 2005. 
 
“In Telenor, there should be absolutely zero tolerance for corruption,” Brekke said in a press conference on Sunday. “We will be an open company and I want us to leave no stone unturned to bring clarity to our involvement in Vimpelcom, which is being investigated in connection with possible illegal money transfers to Uzbekistan.” 
 
Brekke said that having zero tolerance for corruption would not stop Telenor operating internationally.  
 
“Everybody in the world should know that Telenor fights against corruption at all levels. It will be our competitive advantage,” he said. 
 
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