Vodafone faces billion-dollar Indian charge: report

25th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Vodafone and other mobile phone companies operating in India could be forced to pay more than one billion dollars (750 million euros) each to the government, officials told Thursday's Financial Times.

The Indian government came under fire for the alleged undervaluation of the second-generation mobile licences it issued in 2008, forcing telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja to resign.

A report by India's national auditor found the government gave spectrum to existing operators -- Bharti Airtel, BSNL and Vodafone -- beyond the set time limit without charging any upfront fees, resulting in eight billion dollars lost revenue.

"This is payback time," a senior government official told the newspaper. "Those who were given more at less will have to pay something back to the government."

"The exact amount is being worked out but BSNL, Bharti and Vodafone are the ones that benefited the most so they will pay the most," the official added.

Vodafone broke into the Indian market in 2007 when it forked out almost 11 billion dollars to purchase a controlling stake in a local operator, but has since been caught in a price war.

© 2010 AFP

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