Anti-corruption panel to reveal 3G decision today [Bangkok Post, Thailand]
(Bangkok Post (Thailand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 23--The National Anti-Corruption Commission insists it will today definitely announce its complete findings on the contentious third-generation (3G) network deal between True Corp and CAT Telecom.
Medhi Krongkaew, an NACC board member and head of the sub-committee investigating the issue, promised he would resign if the sub-committee misses the deadline again.
The NACC has spent almost a year looking into the deal made in early 2011 between True Corp and state-owned CAT. Divided into six contracts, it followed True's acquisition of the small Hutch mobile business after CAT abandoned its plan to buy the business.
The anti-graft agency had initially planned to issue its report on April 5. Mr Medhi said the investigation was in fact finished a month ago and its 34-page findings would be released today.
The sub-committee must submit its resolutions to the NACC board, which must then decide whether to petition the courts for further action, he said.
Mr Medhi acknowledged that the seven-person committee was not unanimous in its opinion. Some believed the contracts were in violation of telecom-related laws while the others believed the deals were in compliance.
"Only a single concrete resolution will be issued today," he stressed.
Mr Medhi said the second of the six contracts _ involving the BFKT network-rental deal _ appeared to face the strongest challenge as it may breach several issues in Telecom Business Act 2001.
CAT had promised that cellular equipment owned by BFKT, its original joint venture with Hutch, could only be used with CAT-owned frequencies through the 14-year contract life.
The NACC's greatest concern was whether the deal violated Article 46 of the Frequency Allocation Act, which obliges licence-holders to manage spectrum rights on their own.
They are prohibited from allowing other parties to do the job on their behalf.
Mr Medhi said BFKT also did not have a type III licence granted by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to provide network rental service.
An NBTC committee expects to release its own fact-finding report on the True-CAT deal in May, said Setthapong Malisuwan, the vice-chairman of the regulator.
Its scrutiny will focus on whether the deal complied with Article 46 of the Frequency Allocation Act and Article 81 of the Telecom Business Act, he said.
The Information and Communication Technology Ministry reported late last month that irregularities had been uncovered that could result in the 6-billion-baht True-CAT agreement being scrapped.
Critics said the 14-year deal effectively gave True a head-start on 3G at the expense of its rivals. It also removed huge business uncertainty for True Move, whose mobile concession was scheduled to expire next year.
Even if the findings go against True, it could continue to operate 3G services under the deal until the courts make a final ruling, which could take years for all appeals to be exhausted.
(c)2012 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)
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