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Mfone transfer questioned

Mfone transfer questioned

130206 07
Uncertainty over injunction: Mfone’s office in Phnom Penh, Tuesday, Feb. 05, 2013. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Although Mfone subscribers are due to transfer their accounts to Mobitel today, the Post has learned that telco provider Huawei Technologies (Cambodia) is still waiting for a court to rule on the legality of the transaction.

Huawei’s lawyer, Kuoy Thunna, filed a letter late last month with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, believing the subscriber transfer agreement may be in violation of an injunction to freeze Mfone’s assets.

In the letter, Thunna wrote: “My client understands that [the] legal change of Mfone is leading to a loss of my client’s benefit if there is no urgent legal measure, so my client requests the court to take action.”

On Monday, Thunna told the Post: “I think that when Mfone transfers its subscribers to Mobitel, it will violate the injunction.

“Even their agreement, which was signed on January 11, is invalid because it is in violation of the law.”

A court injunction was issued on January 17 to freeze Mfone assets of equal value to the amount owed to Huawei — about $65 million.

In mid-January, Mfone, part of the Thaicom group, reached a deal with locally based Mobitel to transfer all its subscribers.

According to Mobitel, Mfone customers will be asked today to remove their Mfone SIM card and insert a Cellcard SIM card. They will keep their Mfone number and prefix.

Implementation of the injunction was due to begin yesterday, but it has been postponed until Friday.

According to an official’s report, Thakuikaew Punyawai, from Mfone’s communication department, asked that it be delayed because Mfone general manager Jiroj Srinamwong was on a business trip abroad and no one else could accompany court officials to register assets in accordance with injunction order.

According to the lawyer’s letter, Huawei and Mfone have been doing business since 2006.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Sim Visal did not answer calls yesterday.

Mfone business development manager Sim Saren said yesterday he did not know about Huawei’s verification letter or whether Mobitel would pay Mfone for taking over its subscribers.

Kith Meng, chairman of the Royal Group, which owns Mobitel, could not be reached for comment.

Last week, the Post reported that an injunction to freeze Mfone’s assets showed Mfone owed Huawei more than $65 million for metals.

Huawei Technologies (Cambodia) customer support manager Li Be Qiang said he went to Mfone to get information about the debt, which Mfone had owed Huawei for years. He said he was not sure if Mfone had the assets demanded by Huawei.

Nun Ravy, a wireless engineer at Huawei, said he had gone with court officials and lawyers to check with Mfone about the debt.

“We came to discuss debt they owed, but got no [information] because the CEO of Mfone was not present,” Ravy said.

Last week, the Post reported that Mfone owed money to multiple creditors, including the Cambodian government.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]

Anne Renzenbrink at [email protected]

With assistance from May Kunmakara


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