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Laqtel pleads guilty

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Sean Cazabon

CASH-strapped telecommunications provider Laqtel Ltd yesterday pleaded guilty to failing to post a $4 million performance bond with the Telecommunications Authority (TATT).

Laqtel’s corporate secretary Vijay Seegobin yesterday appeared before Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor in the Port-of-Spain Fifth Magistrates Court where the matter came up for hearing.

The company has been given until October 11, 2007, to make a plea in mitigation before being sentenced.

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

The section of the Telecommunications Act, 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.

Attorney Sean Cazabon has been appointed Special Prosecutor to prosecute the case on behalf of TATT, while Mark Rawlins appeared for the telecommunications company.

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, which was granted on on December 31, 2005.

According to TATT, 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. TSTT said it could not wait any longer.

TATT has also 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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