India's communications minister has approved an attempt to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from five of the nation's largest mobile operators, accused of misreporting revenues to shirk license fees.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, RCom, Tata Teleservices and Idea Cellular now face having to fork out at least 8.2 billion rupees ($153.2 million) between them, and potentially much more, India's Economic Timesreported.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) in January accused the operators of understating revenues to the tune of around 10.3 billion rupees, and had been seeking permission to take action to recover allegedly lost license fees.
All five operators strongly denied the claims of misreporting revenue and are expected to fight any attempts to implement the penalties.
Indian operators typically pay 6-10% of their annual revenue as license fees and 2-6% for spectrum usage charges.
The DoT is considering adding interest and penalties to the charges, which it estimates would bring the total to be recovered up to 15.94 billion rupees.
By the department's estimates, Reliance Communications would need to pay 5.51 billion rupees, Bharti Airtel 2.92 billion rupees, Tata Teleservices 2.74 billion, Vodafone India 2.54 billion, Idea Cellular 1.13 billion. But ET noted that these figures are subject to recalculation.