VimpelCom Pays $795 Million to Settle FCPA Charges Both in US and Abroad
On February 18, VimpelCom Ltd. and its Uzbek subsidiary, Unitel LLC, reached a global settlement with the SEC, DOJ, and Dutch regulators Openbarr Ministerie (OM) and the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), in which VimpelCom will pay more than $795 million to resolve FCPA violations in Uzbekistan. The Amsterdam-based telecommunications provider was charged with bribing an Uzbek government official related to the President of Uzbekistan in exchange for government-issued licenses. Between 2006 and 2012, VimpelCom and Unitel made more than $114 million in bribe payments through an entity affiliated with the Uzbek official and disguised approximately half a million dollars as charitable donations made to charities affiliated with the Uzbek official. The terms of the settlement require VimpelCom to pay $397.5 million to Dutch regulators, $230.1 million to the DOJ, and $167.5 million to the SEC; VimpelCom must also retain an independent corporate monitor for three years. DOJ also filed a forfeiture proceeding, seeking more than $550 million held in Swiss bank accounts which it alleged were funds that VimpelCom and two other telecommunications companies used to bribe and/or launder the bribe payments to the Uzbek official. This forfeiture complaint follows the DOJs earlier forfeiture complaint filed on June 29, 2015, seeking forfeiture of more than $300 million in funds held in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Ireland.