Monthly Archives: December 2014

Uzbek Prosecutor-General Names Karimova Suspect In Graft

Uzbek prosecutor-general’s office has said a person named “Karimova G.” is a suspect in a case against an organized criminal group.

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency cited an unnamed source in Uzbek government that mentioned Karimova G. is Gulnara Karimova — the eldest daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

Karimova, 42, was a wealthy businesswoman living mainly in Western Europe until a corruption scandal last year led to the closing down of her businesses and her confinement to a Tashkent house.

In a statement issued on September 8, Uzbek prosecutor-general’s office said that the criminal group’s illegal activities were coordinated by Sodiqov N. and Madumarov R.

In May, two of Karimova’s close associates, including businessman Rustam Madumarov, were reportedly sentenced to lengthy prison terms for financial crimes.

According to the prosecutor-general’s statement, the group is suspected of blackmailing, extortion, forgery and embezzlement.

TeliaSonera and Parex Bank

Parex Bank got caught again.  Parex organized the bribery for TeliaSonera in Uzbekistan.  More than 64 million euros of bribes went through Parex to the family of  President Islam Kerimov.

A bit of progress – LSM in Latvia has been regularly reporting these large crimes.  In the past, when Parex organized the bribery for Daimler and Alstom in Latvia, the stories did not appear in the press.

But some things haven’t changed.  The Latvian regulator FKTK still won’t punish anyone for anything.

Something to keep in mind for all people from the 65 countries where taxpayers support the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – your tax money fraudulently funded the bailout of the offshore deposits at Parex when its assets were embezzled in 2008.

Cyber Attack Sends Sweden Offline

Telia, the largest Internet service provider in Sweden, released details of its outage that occurred Tuesday evening and intermittently throughout Wednesday.

According to the telecommunications operator, the company was not the primary target of the attack, but the recipient of massive traffic overloading its DNS servers after the Electronic Arts (EA) site was compromised.

Although Telia declined to identify EA as the targeted site, company spokesman Marcus Haglund said, “It was an Internet gaming company that was attacked and they sent us massive traffic which our DNS servers could not handle. We will of course investigate this incident further.”

Hackers Identified

Lizard Squad, a notorious hacker group that claimed responsibility for previous attacks on Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation networks, has stepped forward as being the culprit of the EA assault. Although its Twitter accounts have since been suspended, the group tweeted Thursday night, “EA #offline #LizardSquad.”

A DDoS, or distributed denial of service attack, is when hackers overload a virtual network in order to prevent real users and customers from accessing its services.

Case in point, Lizard Squad likely used malware bots to flood EA’s network, ultimately causing it to stop working. Since Telia supplies the connection to EA, its system was then compromised, prohibiting some of the company’s 1.2 million residential subscription accounts from accessing the Internet, watch digital television, and make VoIP telephone calls.

Problem Not Solved

The attack lasted for about 45 minutes on Tuesday night at around 10 PM. While the overnight hours were quiet, the ISP incurred additional outages throughout the day on Wednesday.

Telia announced Thursday it had discovered the flaw in its security system, and had taken steps to combat a future hacking incident.

Haglund revealed, “There was a configuration that was a bit lax yesterday that we have corrected. If the same attack was aimed at us or any of our customers, we can say we are not vulnerable in the way we were yesterday.”

Unfortunately, on Friday Telia released another statement on its website acknowledging further disruption. The company recognized that the denial of service attacks continue to cause interference with broadband and TV services.

Government Intervening

Speaking in Stockholm at an Ericsson event, CEO Johan Dennelind said the situation left “Sweden not working.” He further explained, “It really shows the vulnerability of our era. We haven’t seen an attack on that type of scale before.”

While it’s not clear how many of Telia’s 1.2 million accounts are currently afflicted, the susceptibility of present security measures is cause for concern.

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority has called an emergency meeting scheduled for after the New Year in order to address the recent string of attacks. At that time, the agency will hear from experts and industry executives on what can and must be done in order to provide a safer Internet to Swedes.

DDoS of unprecedented scale ‘stops Sweden working’. The target? A gaming site

Much of Sweden’s fixed-line broadband became collateral damage as a result of a DDoS attack on a mystery gaming site this week.

While DDoS attacks are par for the course for most online businesses these days, the vast majority of these attacks don’t go on to affect the broadband connections of an entire country. But that’s what happened to customers of Telia, Sweden’s largest ISP, for 45 minutes on Tuesday night and then again intermittently throughout Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Telia hasn’t said how many of its 1.2 million residential subscribers were affected by outages but has confirmed the attack knocked out fixed-line broadband, digital TV, and VoIP connections.

Telia released a statement on Wednesday night highlighting the fact that it had resolved the problem and is now investigating the source of the attack.

The company initially thought it was the target of the attack, but a spokesman told ZDNet it had since discovered the target was an online gaming site.

“Telia were not the prime target. It was an internet gaming company that was attacked and they sent us massive traffic which our DNS servers could not handle. We will of course investigate this incident further,” Telia’s spokesman said. He declined to name the gaming site.

According to Swedish news bureau TT, the group behind the attack was LizardSquad. The group last week claimed responsibility for a Sony PlayStation network outage and a prior attack on Microsoft XBox Live.

LizardSquad claimed in a Twitter update on Thursday that it had knocked gaming company Electronic Arts offline. ZDNet has asked EA for comment and will update the story if it receives one.

Speaking at an Ericsson event in Stockholm, TeliaSonera’s CEO Johan Dennelind said the DDoS attack left “Sweden not working”.

“It really shows the vulnerability of our era,” he told ZDNet later. While the ISP has faced DDoS attacks, this one was particularly “severe,” he said. “We haven’t seen an attack on that type of scale before,” said Dennilind.

The company is still running a ‘post-mortem’ on the incident but the main focus yesterday was bringing up the network again and stabilising it. Now the company is embarking on the difficult task of finding out who was behind it.

Telia says network attacked earlier this week, hackers reportedly attempting to target EA

On Thursday, Sweden’s biggest internet service provider, Telia, said that its network had suffered an attack earlier this week from hackers who were apparently trying to target a gaming company. Reports suggest the target was Electronic Arts (EA), which runs some Battlefield services out of the country.

According to Telia, the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack occurred on Tuesday night and through much of Wednesday, forcing the ISP to toughen up its systems. While it was ongoing, the DDoS made it difficult for thousands of Telia‘s customers to surf the web, watch digital TV and make VoIP calls.

 Telia spokesman Marcus Haglund told me Thursday that the attack first hit around 10pm on Tuesday evening, running for around 45 minutes. “Then it calmed down overnight,” he said. “It continued from 10am and was running all through the day and escalated in the night. It ended at 8pm.”

“We have an internal investigation that will run to the bottom of what has happened and what we can do to prevent it in the future,” Haglund continued. “There was a configuration that was a bit lax yesterday that we have corrected. If the same attack was aimed at us or any of our customers, we can say we are not vulnerable in the way we were yesterday.”

Haglund said thousands of customers had been affected. In such attacks, the target’s systems are flooded with data, causing them to stop working. Recent years have seen such attacks grow in severity, with the culprits amplifying them by bouncing the traffic off open servers, notably domain name system (DNS) servers.

The ISP hasn’t named the gaming company that was the target, but the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported that it was Electronic Arts (EA), which has offices in Stockholm that develop and run the Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield Play4Free services. The paper quoted F5 Networks security expert Joakim Sundberg as saying the attack used DNS servers for amplification, and that it was perpetrated by the “Lizard Squad” hacker group.

Lizard Squad claimed on Twitter that it had taken down EA’s servers, and has previously claimed responsibility for repeatedly knocking over Sony’s PlayStation Network, Microsoft’s XBox Live and other online gaming services.



TeliaSonera chief Johan Dennelind told ZDNet that the ISP had not “seen an attack on that type of scale before”.

This article was updated at 7.40am PT to change “a few thousand customers” to “thousands of customers” — a correction made at Telia’s request, which may indicate that there were more than a few thousand victims.

Regulator downplays Swedish bribery connection

Latvia’s financial sector regulator the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FKTK) has said it is satisfied that no rules were broken by a Latvian bank in connection with a large-scale bribery investigation being led by Swedish police.

A report by financial newswire Bloomberg on Thursday said the regulator was satisfied that no rules were broken during the transfer of funds from Swedish telecoms giant TeliaSonera to an account held at Parex bank, the private bank that went spectacularly bust in 2008, forcing a massive government bailout.

Swedish authorities are investigating claims the payments totaling more than €64 million were made via Parex in connection with a lucrative mobile phone contract inside authoritarian Uzbekistan.

Investigators believe the money may have been channeled to businesses controlled by the family of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the central Asian republic as virtual dictator since 1991.

Parex was “fulfilling the requirements” at the time it received the funds in 2007-08, FKTK chief Kristaps Zakulis told Bloomberg.

The investigation into the shady deal has already led to the resignation of TeliaSonera’s Chief Executive Officer Lars Nyberg and other senior employees.

Dutch investigators are also investigating the allegations which touch on other telecoms companies.

TeliaSonera Says No Grounds To Sue For Damages Against Former CEO, Lars Nyberg

Swedish telecommunications firm TeliaSonera AB’s (0H6X.L,TLSNY.PK) board leaves open the possibility of suing for damages against earlier officials based on what may be detected in ongoing investigations. Also, the board concludes that there are no grounds to sue for damages against former President and CEO, Lars Nyberg, with respect to fiscal 2013.

“In connection with the Annual General Meeting 2014, the Board of TeliaSonera stated that the company’s transactions in Eurasia have been carried out according to a repeated pattern. The short period of time – January 2013 – that we have now had to take a stand on must therefore be considered in a larger context. There are several ongoing investigations by different authorities in several countries, and the company has the option to sue for events that took place a longer time ago. Liability issues are thus examined in several ways: not only by TeliaSonera but also by external parties. One of the Board’s most important duties is to continuously consider all possibilities as regards protecting the rights and interests of TeliaSonera and its shareholders,” says Marie Ehrling, Chairman of TeliaSonera’s board.

TeliaSonera’s transactions in Uzbekistan are being probed by authorities in Sweden, the Netherlands and the USA, as announced earlier.

Telenor”s Chief Executive to Quit VimpelCom”s Board

Telenor ASA Chief Executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas said he will quit the board of Amsterdam-based network operator VimpelCom Ltd., which is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission for its business dealings in Uzbekistan.

Mr. Baksaas said Monday he was stepping down from the board to protect the position of Telenor, Norway’s leading network operator, which holds 33% of the shares and 43% of the voting rights of U.S.-listed VimpelCom.

“Corruption allegations and speculations are serious and Telenor as a minority owner will continue to take necessary actions to protect its interests,” Telenor said in a statement. “By stepping down from the Supervisory Board of VimpelCom, Jon Fredrik Baksaas will eliminate any potential conflict of interest under the circumstances.”

Authorities in several countries are investigating whether VimpelCom or Swedish network operator TeliaSonera AB used bribes to further their business interests in Uzbekistan.

“There is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the SEC and the Department of Justice in the United States and the prosecutor in the Netherlands,” VimpelCom spokesman Bobby Leach told The Wall Street Journal.

“While that investigation is continuing, we will not comment on its progress, findings or anything,” Mr. Leach said.

Corruption allegations linked with Uzbekistan triggered the resignation in February 2013 of TeliaSonera’s then- chief executive, Lars Nyberg.

TeliaSonera said Tuesday that it still reserves the right to sue Mr. Nyberg and other former TeliaSonera corporate officers for damages over their role in TeliaSonera’s activities in Uzbekistan.

Mr. Nyberg, who couldn’t be reached for comment, quit after TeliaSonera’s own investigation conducted by an outside law firm criticized the company for not fully adhering to its internal guidelines when it made its investment in Uzbekistan.

However, TeliaSonera’s board said the investigation gave no substance to allegations of bribery and money laundering in Uzbekistan.

TeliaSonera is under investigation by the U.S., Dutch and Swedish authorities, said TeliaSonera spokesman Henrik Westman.

“Before [the investigations] are ready, we will not comment on them. We hope them to be finished as soon as possible,” Mr. Westman said.

In March this year, the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland put the daughter of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov under investigation over alleged money laundering.

OAG said it had frozen more than 800 million Swiss francs ($817 million) in cash and assets as part of a probe targeting a group of people including Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of President Karimov.

In Norway last month, local daily Klassekampen reported that VimpelCom transferred a total of $55 million in 2007 and 2011 to accounts controlled by Ms. Karimova as payment for telecom licenses in her country.

The Journal was unable to reach Ms. Karimova for comment.

When the Swiss investigation was disclosed in March, Ms. Karimova wasn’t available to comment to the Journal. According to a BBC report, Ms. Karimova claimed in March to be under house arrest in Uzbekistan.

Telenor’s Mr. Baksaas, who served on VimpelCom’s board since 2010, has denied knowledge of any wrongdoing in connection with VimpelCom’s Uzbek licenses.

Mr. Baksaas and Telenor Chairman Svein Aaser met last month with Norway’sMinistry of Trade and Industry, which owns 54% of Telenor, to explain their role in VimpelCom’s affairs in Uzbekistan.

“I asked whether they could have done something different, and they said they couldn’t, they have been proactive and worked for external reviews in VimpelCom,” Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Mæland, told reporters after meeting with Telenor on Nov. 19.

Telenor said it would assist the investigations into VimpelCom. “Telenor has zero tolerance for corruption,” Mr. Baksaas said in a statement.

Mr. Baksaas will be replaced on Vimpelcom’s board by Kjell Morten Johnsen who is the head of Telenor’s European operations.

Write to Juhana Rossi at and Kjetil Malkenes Hovland at

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Sweden’s Telia attack linked to Pirate Bay

The high-profile hacking attack on Swedish internet giant Telia has been linked to a police raid on Pirate Bay, which experts say “provoked feelings” among hackers.

The attack has severely affected users of Telia’s online services with many struggling to get a steady connection on Friday.
“It started just after 1 o’clock and seems to be the same kind of attack as before,” Henrik Johansson of Telia told the TT news agency.
David Jacoby, chief researcher at data security firm Kaspersky Lab said the attack likely stems from a police raid earlier this week against the file-sharing Pirate Bay in Stockholm.
Swedish cops briefly ground the site with its Swedish domain name before it come online again a few hours later with a different domain name.
According to Jacoby the group that claims to be behind the Telia attack, Lizard Squad, is one of many underground groups involved in the anonymous Pirate Bay movement.
“These attacks don’t come from nowhere. The Pirate Bay raid has provoked feelings in these groups,” Jacoby told the TT news agency.
He added; “There will most likely be more similar attacks against film companies, games companies and public authorities,” he said.
Twitter has already closed two accounts linked to the Lizard Squad in the wake of the attack.
A previous attack over Tuesday and Wednesday also caused headaches for the company. A Telia spokesman told The Local at the time that the company had put “technical arrangements in place to ensure [an attack] won’t happen again”.
Lateon Thursday, a well known hacking collective called Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the attacks. It is understood that Lizard Squad was targeting gaming company Electronic Arts, which uses Telia for net connection.
The group has a long history of carrying out DDOS attacks, which entails a website being bombarded with communication requests so that the servers become overloaded and the site crashes.
The group has targeted XBox Live and the Playstation Network in the past, and even tweeted out a bomb threat to a plane carrying a Sony executive.
Over five million Swedes use Telia to provide their home phones, TV and mobile services. The company is part-owned by the Swedish state.