Norway’s government ministry in charge of business and trade has determined it can’t evaluate claims made by an anonymous whistleblower, regarding how state-controlled Telenor allowed its jointly owned firm VimpelCom to expand in eastern Europe and former Soviet republics. Telenor has been under pressure over how it has handled the corruption allegations that later arose against VimpelCom.
The anonymous whistleblower’s emails in January set off alarm within both the government and the parliament, and Trade Minister Monica Mæland had to respond to them. The whistleblower claimed to be in possession of thousands of documents about Telenor’s alleged involvement in VimpelCom’s expansion, which prosecutors now suspect involved bribery payments to, among others, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s dictator.
Since January, the whistleblower has been quiet and ministry officials confirmed to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that they have had no further corresondence. Telenor’s own top officials have reminded government officials that Telenor has been involved in serious conflicts with its Russian co-owner of VimpelCom, the Alfa group, and that “undocumented claims and insinuations” must be handled carefully. Neither the government nor Telenor would speculate on who the whistleblower might be, or what motives lie behind the allegations.