Ex-Telenor CEO risks US corruption charges

Former Telenor chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas risks criminal charges in the US and elsewhere if Russian mobile firm Vimpelcom is found guilty of corruption, Norways NRK has reported.

Ex-Telenor CEO risks US corruption charges
Jon Fredrik Baksaas presents his last set of Telenor results in July. Photo: Torstein Boe / NTB scanpix
According to Professor Beate Sjåfjell, a law professor at the University of Oslo, Baksaas’s three years on board of Vimpelcom between December 2011 and December 2014 mean he could be held partly responsible if Vimpelcom is proven to have given bribes in Uzbekistan. 
“The board of a company has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that it is operated lawfully,” Sjåfjell told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK. “As a result, Baksaas and the other directors of Vimpelcom could risk a criminal prosecution.” 
Vimpelcom, in which Telenor owns a 33 percent stake, is being investigated by American and Dutch authorities for paying bribes to set up its Beeline phone company in Uzbekistan. 
Sjåfjell argued that even without evidence showing Baksaas was  involved in or even aware of illegal payments, the well-publicized corruption issues in Uzbekistan could leave him vulnerable to charges of negligence. 
“Uzbekistan is so high on the list of world’s most corrupt countries that anyone at all familiar with anyone aware that Vimpelcom wanted to establish themselves there must have realized that they had a special responsibility to check whether the investment took place in a correct manner,” Sjåfjell said. 
Birthe Eriksen, an expert on corruption at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), said that US authorities were increasingly seeking to hold the board members of companies responsible for violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 
Her colleague Tina Søreide said that executives could be charged in the US, even without any proof of direct personal involvement 
“Board members can be held accountable for the failure of systems, even if it cannot be proven that they have requested or accepted that the company become involved in corrupt practices,” she said. 
“There is evidence that board members play an important role in preventing corruption, and whistle-blowers are encouraged to contact the board if they have information about corruption,” she added. 
“Through making directors personally responsible, the justice system aims to reduce the willingness of board members to remain passive when they receive information about corruption.” 
According to Norway's Klasskampen newspaper the law firm hired by Telenor to “leave no stone unturned” in its investigation of how Telenor handled the Vimpelcom case will not touch on what information the Telenor directors on Vimpelcom's board were given. 
“When I talk about an investigation of the Telenor system, I mean it internally within Telenor,” the company's new chief executive Sigve Brekke told the newspaper. “We have no record of what has happened on Vimpelcom's board.” 


Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Found out what’s going on in Norway on Tuesday with the Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
The northern lights in Tromsø. Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

One in ten international students in Norway has had Covid-19

Ten percent of overseas students studying in Norway, compared to just 2.9 percent of Norwegian students, have had Covid-19, according to the Students Health and Well Being Survey (SHoT).

Some 62,000 thousand of Norway’s 300,000 students responded to the survey.

READ MORE: Are Norway’s Covid-19 numbers on track for reopening?

Overall, nearly three percent said that they been infected with the Coronavirus, just over half have had to self isolate, and 70 percent took tests.

Woman in her 40’s charged with murder

A woman has been charged with murder in Halden, southeast Norway after a body was found in an apartment in the towns centre.

She will be questioned on Tuesday. A public defender has been appointed. 

Six police cars attended the scene at a small housing association in the centre of Halden.

A person found in the same apartment is being questioned as a witness.

Network provider Telenor’s revenues down 2.1 billion kroner compared to last year

Telenor’s revenues are down 2.1 billion in the first quarter and the company has written of its 6.5 billion kroner investment in Myanmar following Februarys military coup.

The mobile network operator became one of the first foreign providers in the country and had gained a 35 percent market share.

However, the country’s new military regime shut down the mobile network on March 15th.

“In Myanmar, we are experiencing a confusing and uncertain situation. We are deeply concerned about the development in the country,” The company stated in its quarterly report.

Norway and Sweden in reindeer border dispute

Swedish Sami reindeer herders will appear in court this week in a case against the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

The Swedish Sami herders believe they have exclusive rights to grazing areas across the Norwegian border because they have lived in the surrounding area for hundreds of years. The Norwegian government rejects these claims.

The reindeer grazing convention will be central to the case; the convention facilitates mutual cross-border grazing for reindeer herds.

Sweden withdrew from the convention in 2005. However, Norway enshrined the convention in law in 2005.

483 Coronavirus infections recorded

On Monday, 483 new cases of Covid-29 were registered, an increase of 75 compared to the average of the previous week.

READ ALSO: Norway considers lifting measures for people who have had their first Covid vaccine 

This is down from 1150 cases registered during the peak of Norway’s third wave on March 16th.

This is partly because fewer infections are registered during weekends and public holidays, causing an uptick on Mondays.