BTRC Chairman MD Jahirul Haque confirmed the reply
The government has replied to the legal notice sent to the President Abdul Hamid by mobile operator Grameenphone’s parent company Telenor for arbitration of Tk12,579 crore audit claim.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission officials said the reply was sent on December 4 saying as the matter was pending with the court there was no scope for arbitration at this moment.
“We informed the Telenor that arbitration is not mandatory as the matter is now with the court. If arbitration is not mandatory and we ignore it, then only the Telenor can go to the international court,” a senior BTRC official told Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.
BTRC Chairman MD Jahirul Haque confirmed the reply.
“GP got three months to pay Tk 2,000 crore as per the court order. We will wait until then to see whether it complies the court’s order,” he said.
Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar on Thursday told reporters that it was unacceptable that a company doing business in the country sent a legal notice to the President.
“This is unacceptable that GP sent a legal notice to the President of the country. The country’s apex court ordered GP to pay Tk2,000 crore in three months. We will not go for negotiation with GP until it complies with the court order,” he said.
The minister said GP also hinted it might go to international court if there was no arbitration.
“As GP already lost in the local court, international court would not be of any help,” he said.
However, in a statement on Thursday, Cathrine Stang Lund, director of Group Communication Asia, Telenor Group, said: “GP is not a party to this process. For Telenor Group it is important to protect its assets in Bangladesh.
“Telenor has sent a notice to seek resolution of a dispute and invited the Government of Bangladesh to meet to discuss the matter and work towards a constructive solution.
“The BIT process itself encourages dialogue, and Telenor still believes the best way forward is that the authorities and the operators agree on an amicable and transparent solution to the disputed audit,” it said.
After running an audit on the Norway-based company, BTRC in 2016 claimed Tk12,579.95 crore from the mobile phone operator in taxes and late fees accumulated over the years.
BTRC ran its first audit back in 2011 on Grameenphone and found financial discrepancies amounting to Tk3,034 crore in the operator’s books from its inception in 1996 till March 2011.
Grameenphone then disputed the appointment process of the auditing firm, and after a court ruling BTRC in October 2015 appointed another firm, Toha Khan Zaman & Co, to run a new audit on Grameenphone’s books from its inception until June 2015.