The Department of Justice and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) jointly agreed to voluntarily extend for one year the term of the Russian telecommunications company’s independent compliance monitorship because it has not yet completely fulfilled its obligations under a 2019 deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).

MTS retained an independent compliance monitor in September 2019 to review and test its anti-corruption compliance program after the company paid $850 million in penalties announced by the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to resolve charges it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to win business in Uzbekistan.

In a joint letter submitted March 3 to Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Justice Department and MTS advised the court each party agreed to extend the term of the compliance monitorship through Sept. 18, 2023. The original term would have ended in 2022.

In the joint letter, the Justice Department said the extension was warranted based on several factors, “including the fact that while the company has made significant improvements to its compliance program, certain critical components of MTS’s anti-corruption compliance and ethics program are in the early stages of development, are not yet effective, and will not be implemented and tested prior to the end of the term.”

“The parties agree that extending the term at this time is in the interest of all parties, as it will provide MTS with adequate time to implement necessary enhancements and permit the monitor to focus resources on testing the various components of MTS’s compliance program when they are ready to be tested,” the joint letter stated.

In a March 3 press release discussing its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2021 results, MTS noted the Covid-19 pandemic also factored into the decision.

“We have not received notice from the SEC, the DOJ, or the monitor of any breach of the terms of the DPA or the order,” the company added.

In a related decision, the court extended the exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act for an additional two years, through March 18, 2024, “as such exclusion best serves the ends of justice and outweighs the best interests of the public and the defendants in a speedy trial,” the court stated.

MTS is the largest mobile operator in Russia and also serves customers in Belarus and Armenia.