Etisalat says fraud charges framed against Indian unit

UAE telco says unit will fight claims it bought its 2G licence at below market price
Etisalat says fraud charges framed against Indian unit
By Jo Anne Bladd
Sun 23 Oct 2011 05:47 PM

UAE telecoms operator Etisalat on Sunday said Indian affiliate Etisalat DB would contest charges filed by Indian authorities relating to the allocation of its 2G licence in January 2008.

India may have lost up to $39bn in revenue when the telecoms ministry gave out lucrative licences and radio spectrum in 2007/08 at below-market prices as many ineligible firms won licences.

Reliance Telecom, Etisalat DB and Unitech Wireless were charged in April. Indian authorities framed these charges on Saturday, Etisalat said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi bourse, the latest step in the judicial process.

Etisalat bought a 45 percent stake in Swan Telecom for about $900 million in September 2008, renaming it Etisalat DB the following year.

The 18-country operator said it had not found any basis for these charges and warned its affiliate would "defend the charges resolutely".

"The charges relate to events that occurred at least one year prior to Etisalat's investment in Swan," it said. "Etisalat had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and in the licence application process and had no involvement in it."

Etisalat DB had about 1.4 million subscribers as of September. It offers services in 15 areas of India including Mumbai, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

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