(AFP) – Oct 7, 2007
DHAKA (AFP) — The Bangladesh subsidiary of Norwegian telecom giant Telenor has been fined 24.5 million dollars for illegally depriving the government of revenue, officials said on Monday.
GrameenPhone, Bangladesh's biggest mobile phone company, ignored laws requiring private operators to use the state-owned BTTB land phone network for international calls by its subscribers.
The system ensures that hundreds of millions of dollars in tariffs are paid to the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB).
"They (GrameenPhone) used a new technology called Voice Over Internet Protocal (VoIP) to receive calls from abroad. The law enforcers busted these dozens of clandestine VoIP operations since the takeover of the emergency government," Abbas Faruq, a spokesman of the country's telecom regulator, said.
Telenor owns 62 percent of GrameenPhone, Bangladesh's leading mobile phone company which has more than 15 million subscribers.
"Acknowledging that this has caused the government loss of revenue, GrameenPhone has accepted to pay this compensation to the government," Grameen said in a statement.
GrameenPhone is the largest private enterprise in Bangladesh. Its net profit last year grew by 55 per cent to 136 million dollars on turnover of 656 million dollars.
The country's telecom regulator, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, and law enforcers jointly launched a crackdown on the illegal practice after the emergency government took over in January.
The military-backed government has promised to clean up the country's corrupt politics and business before it holds elections by the end of 2008.
Bangladesh is one of the world's poorest countries with nearly half of its 144 million population surviving on less than a dollar day.
But its booming mobile phone industry has emerged as a key driver of the cash-strapped nation's economy, creating nearly 240,000 jobs and adding 650 million dollars annually to gross domestic product, a study said last May.
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