Grameenphone Ltd. today, in a letter to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), has labeled the regulator’s recent audit demand of BDT 12,579.95 crore as “unfounded and without any legal basis.” The operator has requested that the demand be withdrawn and also requested discussions with a view to find an amicable resolution.
On 2 April 2019, BTRC had issued a demand against GP of BDT 8,494.01 crore to the telecom regulator and BDT 4,085.94 crore to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) within a period of 10 (ten) working days. The claim originated from an Information and Systems Audit, conducted by the JVCA of Toha Khan Zaman & Co., on GP’s operations from inception in 1997 till December, 2014. Approximately BDT 6,194.3 crore, or nearly 73%, of the BDT 8494.01 crore claimed on behalf of BTRC, is the interest amount being charged up to December 2017.
Earlier, BTRC had raised another claim against Grameenphone for BDT 3,034 crore from a previous Information and System Audit conducted by another auditor for the period of 1997 to 2011. Subsequently, the Hon’ble Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh declared the appointment of that auditor as illegal. Notably, BTRC continues to defend the earlier demand for the period of 1997-2011 at court, while now raising a claim of BDT 12,579.95 crore for the period 1997-2014. As it stands, the present demand made by the BTRC overlaps the period 1997 to 2011.
“Despite numerous interactions with the Regulator and extending our full cooperation to the auditors, it is very unfortunate to note that the demand did not reflect our responses. Throughout the entire audit process we have consistently pointed out the flaws in this audit exercise; however, our observations have gone unheeded,” said Grameenphone CEO, Michael Foley.
In August 2018, BTRC requested for a formal response from GP on the audit findings, and accordingly GP had responded in detail in September 2018 within their timeline. However, the BTRC demand letter states that only responses made up till February 2018 were considered.
With regard to NBR portion of the demand (representing approximately 32% of the total claim), GP also pointed out that BTRC has no authority to raise any demand on behalf of NBR.
GP reiterates its request to BTRC to withdraw the demand and to engage in discussions with a view to find an amicable resolution.