The Supreme Court is to rule January 24 on the application from telecoms provider Symbiote Investments Limited seeking to block the Government from taking back the domestic mobile spectrum licence which it issued to the company last September.
Final submissions were heard by Justice Leighton Pusey yesterday from lawyers representing the embattled mobile phone company, which trades as Caricel.
Cabinet approved the issuance of the licence, going against the recommendations made by Contractor General Dirk Harrison because of several “adverse traces” found in relation to one of the principals of the company. Harrison referred to the concerns raised in intelligence reports that were obtained from the police in the course of his office’s investigations.
Attorneys Patrick Bailey and Minette Lawrence, who represent the company, as well as her husband Lowell Lawrence, who is a director of the company, have since had their visas revoked by the United States Government, which has voiced concerns to the Jamaican Government about the issuance of the licence
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who defended the signing of the licence in Parliament, maintained that the Government had followed the law.
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“We went through a very detailed process, followed the law and the result was the grant of a licence,” he said Thursday.
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However, Holness said, based on the concerns raised by the United States Government, his Administration had a duty to “pay attention” to and see whether the issues highlighted could pose a problem for the country.
The contractor general, in a July 2016 report to Parliament, had indicated that the report would also be forwarded to the commissioner of police in relation to a breach of the Telecommunications Act, and the Radio and Telegraph Control Act.
The report noted that the Spectrum Management Authority had written to Symbiote in February 2016 indicating that it was investigating a broadband signal detected within the specific frequency range for which the company had applied.
Harrison said that under the circumstances the mobile carrier and service provider licences which had been previously issued to Symbiote by the previous Government should be revoked.
Harrison also pointed out in the report that the adverse traces revealed in the police’s investigations were also the subject of an OCG 2009 investigation into the circumstances surrounding the grant of telecommunications licences to Index Communications Network Limited, a company trading as Gotel.
He noted that it was Index Communications Network Limited, trading as Gotel, and NewGen Technologies Company Limited that had merged networks to operate under the brand of Symbiote Investments and that the majority shareholder in Symbiote was Narysingh Limited, an offshore company in which the majority shareholder and sole director at the time that a second application was made to the Office of Utilities Regulation was the same person on whom the “adverse traces” were found.
Harrison advised that in all the circumstances Dr Andrew Wheatley, the minister of science, energy and technology, should utilize the discretion afforded to him by Section 13 of the Telecommunications Act and not sign the Domestic Mobile Spectrum Licence which was granted to Symbiote Investments Ltd.
Jamaica Observer (Source)
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