The Department of Telecommunications country’s telecom licensor, is to slap penalties totaling Rs 1,594 crore on five mobile phone firms for underreporting of revenues, resulting in losses to the exchequer.
The notices would be send to Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone India, Tata Teleservices, Tata Communications and Reliance Communications.
According to DoT estimates, Bharti Airtel would have to pay penalties of Rs 292 crore and Vodafone India of about Rs 254 crore. The penalties for Idea Cellular would be about Rs 113 crore, Tata Teleservices in the tune of Rs 273 crore, Tata Communications Rs 120 crore and Reliance Communications about Rs 551 crore. This includes interest and other related fines for the alleged violations.
Earlier this year, a DoT appointed panel endorsed the findings of external auditors, which said these operators had understated revenues by Rs 10,268 crore for assessment years starting from 2006 to 2008.The companies were issued showcause notices later. Telecom operators pay 6-10 percent of their annual revenues as licence fee and 2-6 percent as spectrum charges, and under reporting of revenues has resulted in losses to the exchequer.
The telecom companies had denied any wrongdoings TRAI in 2009 had asked DoT to conduct a special audit of financial accounts of these five telecom companies for the 2006-08 period. These companies were holding multiple licences – Unified Access Service Licence (UASL), National Long Distance (NLD), International Lonag Distance (ILD) and Internet Service Provider (ISP).