BTRC sues GP big guns for illegal VoIP links
Monday, 28 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

The telecoms regulator has filed a case against Grameenphone's (GP) two preceding chief executives and eight incumbent and former high officials of the company, charging them with involvement in illegal VoIP business.

GP, the country's largest cell phone operator, and Malaysian mobile phone operator DiGi Telecommunications have been also accused of "conniving" with Bangladeshi internet service provider (ISP) named AccessTel in the "punishable crime." Norwegian state-owned telecoms heavyweight Telenor owns major stakes in both GP and DiGi.

Sub-inspector Manzur Ali Khan of Gulshan Police Station has confirmed that Zian Shah Kabir, assistant director of Legal and Licensing Division of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), filed the case (No. 46) on Jan 16.

The former GP officials accused in the case are CEOs Eric Aas and Ola Ree, Technical Director Thor Randhaug, Chief Technical Officer Yogesh Sanjeev Malik, and Sales and Marketing Director Mehboob Chowdhury.

The accused incumbent GP officials are Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Director Khalid Hasan, Chief Technical Officer Md Shafiqul Islam, Sales and Marketing Director Kafil HS Muyeed, Chief Financial Officer Md Aril Al Islam and Head of Revenue Assurance Espen Wiig Warendroph. The regulator is carrying out further investigation to start prosecution, another Gulshan police officer told bdnews24.com Sunday on condition of anonymity.

BTRC's written complaint says that a taskforce composed of regulatory and law-enforcing officials along with technical experts raided GP's headquarters in Gulshan on Dec 6, 2007. It examined GP's call records and found its network was connected with AccessTel through four E1 links.

It alerted the investigators and they hunted GP's internal records and emails from Dec 7-Dec 14 last year. The probe revealed that GP's expatriate and local high officials were involved in unscrupulous VoIP operations. It also found that Malaysian mobile phone provider DiGi had been GP's overseas partner in the unlawful VoIP venture.

"The majority shareholder's consent to such illegal international VoIP operations has become apparent to the probe committee," the BTRC said in its written complaint to the police.

The regulator also spoke of GP's deliberate non-cooperation with the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). GP's Head of Revenue Assurance Espen Wiig Warendroph had verbally instructed his staff not to reveal the call records of a specific phone number to the elite crime buster.

The number was found to have been used by AccessTel in VoIP call termination, BTRC said. The investigators then retrieved emails of suspected foreign and local officials of GP.

"It proves Grameenphone's high ranking officials' involvement in the illegal call termination business," the regulator said.

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