Thai senate deems TrueMoveH deal illegal

Don Sambandaraksa
16 Feb 2012
00:00
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A senate committee has concluded that Thai telco TrueMoveH’s 3G network deal with state-owned CAT Telecom is illegal.

The senate committee has forwarded the matter to the counter corruption commission for further action against the state-owned telco, after finding the agreement to have violated three laws:

Article 46 paragraph 2 of the Frequency Allocation Act B.E. 2553 (2010) that forbids transfer of frequency, in this case from CAT Telecom to TrueMove.

The Telecom Business Act B.E. 2544 (2001) as the network operator, BFKT (a wholly owned subsidiary of TrueMove) does not possess any operating licence from the regulator.

The Public-Private Joint Investment Act B.E. 2535 (1992) as the project exceeds one billion baht ($32 million) but was not forwarded to the Cabinet of Ministers for scrutiny and approval as stipulated in the act.

The senate has forwarded its findings to the counter corruption commission which has summoned CAT Telecom and the regulator National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission for testimony on 20 February.

Separate investigations by the Office of the Comptroller General, the Administrative Court and the ICT Ministry into the decisions made by CAT Telecom in signing the agreement are ongoing.

CAT has asked the counter corruption commission to throw out the case on the grounds that it is redundant with other investigations, but the request was denied.

TrueMove’s 2G concession expires in September 2013. In January 2011 it signed an agreement with concession holder CAT Telecom effectively extending its concession by 14 years and giving it a head start in launching a 3G network.

One arm of True builds and operates the network and sells capacity to CAT and another arm buys back 80% of the network capacity back to resell under an MVNO agreement.

All the ongoing lawsuits and investigations focus on CAT Telecom and certain executives for corruption in their role as state employees, not on TrueMove itself.

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