Saturday 29th September, 2007


Telecom Authority charges Laqtel

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‘TATT accused Laqtel of... failing to provide the authority with the performance bond as required,’

The Telecommunications Authority of T&T (TATT) has filed charges against Laqtel Ltd, the cash-strapped telecommunications company formed by businessman Joe Laquis, for failure to post a $4 million performance bond with TATT.

Laqtel is expected to appear in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court on Monday to answer the charges.

If found guilty, the company could be fined $250,000 and sentenced to five years imprisonment.

The section under which the charge was laid also provides for a further fine of $10,000 a day for each day the offence continues after conviction.

Laqtel was required to post the bond under the terms of a concession granted to it by TATT for the operation of a public domestic mobile telecommunications network and public domestic mobile telecommunications services. The bond was to guarantee that Laqtel lived up to the obligations of the concession.

The concession was awarded on December 31, 2005 and the bond should have been posted by January 14, 2006.

TATT accused Laqtel of committing an offence under section 65(b) of the Telecommunications Act 2001 by failing to provide the authority with the performance bond as required by condition A13 of its concession.

TATT said it has been patient with Laqtel, writing the company several times to remind it to pay the bond. TATT said it could not wait any longer.

TATT said it did not want to move against Laqtel before because it thought punitive action might have prevented the company from launching its services and the authority considered that it was in the public’s best interest to have a third mobile telecommunications provider in the market.

In addition, TATT said it considered the fact that Laqtel did pay its spectrum fees for ten years—a non-refundable sum of US$2,325,000.

In a release yesterday, TATT noted that Laqtel had failed to launch its mobile network and mobile services by the deadline of December 30, 2006. However, TATT said that based on “representations” made to the authority by Laqtel about its progress in organising its business it would not penalise the company for this failure at this time.

The authority said Laqtel must meet “clear and precise deadlines” in respect of rolling out its mobile network and said it would review its position on or after December 31,2007.

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