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VimpelCom Facing Criminal Investigation in the Netherlands

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Russia's VimpelCom is facing an investigation from the USA's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which it says appears to be concerned with the company's operations in Uzbekistan.

The company also confirmed that its commercial headquarters in Amsterdam was visited by representatives of the Dutch authorities, including the Dutch public prosecutor office, who obtained documents and informed the Company that it was the focus of a criminal investigation in the Netherlands.

Although generally considered to be a Russian firm with overseas subsidiaries, it is legally headquartered in Amsterdam.

VimpelCom acquired the mobile network in Uzbekistan back in January 2006, when it bought both Buztel and Unitel from their owners for USD260 million and merged them into a single operation.

VimpelCom has 10.2 million subscribers in the country, which represents around 3 percent of its revenues.

Last year, the firm confirmed it was facing a tax investigation in the country, which at the time was largely put down to the typical difficulties of dealing with governments in the region.

Rival Russian mobile network, MTS had to write off its entire Uzbek investment of USD1.1 billion after the government confiscated the company under dubious tax pretences.

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Tags: vimpelcom  Uzbekistan  Netherlands