The former majority shareholder of Telecel Zimbabwe, Vimpelcom, which sold its stake to the government for $40 million this month, is reportedly in talks to pay about $775 million to settle United States allegations that it paid bribes in Uzbekistan to win business.
The Amsterdam-based company owned 60 percent of Telecel Zimbabwe. It sold this to the government-owned Zarnet which is wholly owned by the government through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
Zarnet was established in 1997 as a government internet service provider and has no experience in telecommunications.
VimpelCom put its stake in Telecel Zimbabwe, the country’s third largest mobile phone operator with 2.4 million subscribers, on the market in December and received a bid from a foreign investor but the government blocked the transaction saying it had not received any capital gains tax from previous transactions involving Telecel.
VimpelCom is among the 10 largest mobile phone operators in the world. It is listed in New York and is being charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.