Board members at Telenor reportedly were so dissatisfied over how Telenor’s top management handled the company’s involvement in the VimpelCom corruption scandal that it cut bonus payments to Telenor’s former chief executive, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, and two other top executives who were later suspended pending an internal investigation into the corruption.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Wednesday that the board cut the extra compensation to Baksaas, chief legal counsel Pål Wien Espen and Finance Director Richard Olav Aa. The reason was that all three had waited several years before passing on central information about corruption concerns at VimpelCom to the board.
The bonus cuts were aimed at sending a clear signal to the executives that their communication about concerns over VimpelCom’s operations in Uzbekistan wasn’t good enough. VimpelCom has since admitted to corruption and paid a huge fine to authorities in the US, where its shares are traded, and the Netherlands, where the Russian-controlled company is headquartered.
The bonus cuts occurred shortly Baksaas and then-board-chairman Svein Aaser had been summoned for questioning by the Norwegian Parliament’s disciplinary committee. The Norwegian state owns 67 percent of Telenor’s shares, and thus has a keen interest in the company.
DN reported that Baksaas’ own bonus for 2014 was cut by NOK 500,000 (around USD 65,000 at the time) to NOK 1.7 million. Aa’s bonus for 2014 was listed in corporate documents as NOK 931,000, down by NOK 148,000 from the year before, while Espen’s bonus was set at NOK 483,000.
Neither Baksaas, Aa or Espen would or could comment on the bonus payments, nor would Aaser, who was fired later that year by the government’s trade minister, Monica Mæland.