Friday, December 30, 2005

Serbian Government revokes the license of a mobile phone operator

Serbian Government revokes license from Mobtel

The Serbian Government has reached a decision to revoke, due to serious violation
of the contract, Mobtel’s license for performing telecommunications in the mobile
telephone system. The Serbian Government has established that Mobtel signed a
contract with the Mobikos Company [Kosovo Company] without the necessary consent
that could have been approved only by the Serbian Government. This way, Mobtel has
ceded illegally the state license for telecommunications in Kosovo to the Mobikos
Company from Pec/Peje, owned by Ekrem LLuka. By signing a contract with Mobikos,
Mobtel has damaged most seriously the economic interests of the state of Serbia
and enabled Ekrem LLuka, by using the license of the state of Serbia and state
infrastructure, to enormously earn from exploiting mobile telecommunications in
Kosovo. Apart from that, it is clear that the signing of such a contract and
including Mobikos in the system of Serbian mobile telecommunications is directly
endangering national security interests.
The Serbian Government has undertaken
all the necessary measures towards enabling all users of the 063 network to
normally use all services of this network.

Network 063 to continue working normally

The contract, by which Mobtel transferred the license for using mobile
telecommunications in Kosovo to the Mobikos Company, was signed in secrecy,
to the detriment of the state of Serbia, said Serbian Interior Minister Dragan Jocic.

The government didn’t know until now that Mobtel transferred the license to
Mobikos, owned by Ekrem LLuka, said Jocic. He said that the owner of the
Mobikos Company Ekrem LLuka, to whom Mobtel sold the license for offering
services of mobile telecommunications in Kosovo, could have tapped all
conversations on the territory of entire Serbia
. “They could have also used all the
statistics on communications and all possible listings that exist and that could have
been entered,” Jocic told a press conference in the Serbian Government building.

Jocic said these data had not been announced earlier, “because the state acts only
when it is certain that all the documents and all correspondence are authentic.”
“Hadn’t UNMIK addressed the Administration for combating crime, that contract
would have been a secret,” said Jocic.

What is the estimated damage?

Experts claim that Mobikos in Kosovo has about 300,000 subscribers, and that
their daily income amounts to about three million dinars. Thus, Mobikos, i.e.
Ekrem LLuka, earned around 766.5 million dinars or around nine million euros last
year. As it is unclear how pre-paid traffic is calculated, estimates are that the real
profit of Ekrem LLuka is around 15 millions euros annually. Although Luka used to
say that he bought from Karic brothers 70 percent of the Mobtel network in Kosovo,
experts say that Karic and Luka agreed on joint business. There haven’t been real
reasons for such cooperation, because Mobtel received in 1999 from the UN a
work permit in Kosovo for the next 15 years.



Anonymous said...

Interesting development. How many subscribers does Mobtel have that will now be left in the dark? Will this now pity the riches family in Serbia against the government?

Balkan Update said...

The spokesperson for Mobikos said that there was no secret agreement with Mobtel. He was quoted by RTK as saying something like the following:

We had a minor contract with the Mobtel that had to do with the distribution of their prepaid phone cards. This agreement lasted only two months, and was terminated at the end of 2004 due to controversy about collaborating with a Serbian firm. Sounded to me that Kosovo politicians put some pressure on Mobikos to terminate the contract and Mobikos did indeed terminate the contract.

In any case, the contract was minor and nothing close what the Serbian government wants us to believe. The Serbian government revoked the contract of Mobtel to score some political points. In additions to that, the company is partially owned by Karic brothers, who are an opposition party in Serbia. This is a purely political act on the part of Kostunica's government.