Oslo: Norway’s prime minister has lobbied his Indian counterpart to ensure that Norwegian mobile operator Telenor ASA receives “fair treatment” from Indian authorities in a telecoms graft scandal.
Norwegian daily Aftenposten quoted deputy trade minister Rikke Lind as saying Telenor had asked Norwegian authorities to engage in the case, which threatens to strip mobile licences from Telenor’s majority-owned Indian unit Uninor.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday charged a former minister, Reliance ADA group and the Indian joint venture partners of Telenor and of Etisalat in a multi-billion dollar telecoms licensing corruption scandal that has rocked the government and business establishments.
Lind said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg sent a letter to India’s Manmohan Singh about the Telenor affair. “Norwegian authorities want to make sure the Indian government does what it can to ensure that Telenor and other foreign investors in India’s telecom market receive fair treatment,” Lind said in an email to Aftenposten.
The trade ministry confirmed the content of the email to Reuters. Telenor was not immediately available for comment.
Telenor has long said that if corruption had occurred, it was before 2008, when it bought its Indian mobile license from partner Unitech, which holds 32.5% of Uninor.
“It’s important to emphasise that nobody is convicted,” Telenor’s Asia chief Sigve Brekke told Aftenposten. “But if there is something to the allegations that have been brought against our partner, then we distance ourselves strongly from it.”