Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Revoking Caricel's licence could cost taxpayers millions

Published:Wednesday | January 4, 2017 | 1:36 PM

Damion Mitchell, Integration Editor

Jamaican taxpayers could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to telecommunications company Symbiote Investments Limited if the Government goes through with plans to revoke its cellular licence.

Symbiote which is trading as Caricel has gone to court seeking an injunction blocking the revocation of the licence.

The matter is scheduled to be heard tomorrow before Justice Leighton Pusey.

Under the Telecommunication Act, the Government may close down the licensee's operations in the interest of national security.

According to the act, where the National Security Minister is satisfied that it is necessary to close down the operations of the licensee or a part thereof in the interest of national security he may do so after consultation with the Minister responsible for issuing the license.

However, the licensee shall be eligible for compensation for any loss suffered as a result of that action.

Symbiote had paid $2.7 billion for the license alone.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Symbiote Investments Limited are gearing up for a battle with the Government this Thursday in the company's bid to keep the cellular licence received in September last year.

READ: 'We Will Be Fearless' - Visa Cancellations Will Not Cause Caricel Lawyers To Drop Client

IN PHOTO: Samuels

The Jamaican authorities are facing pressure from the United States over the licence to Symbiote.

Symbiote feels a probe by the Spectrum Management Authority may be a prelude to the revocation of the spectrum licence signed by the Andrew Holness-led administration.

Bert Samuels of the firm, Knight Junor and Samuels has declined to go into details about the court issue, noting that Justice Leighton Pusey had requested, and they agreed, not to discuss the issue outside of his chambers.

The matter has been before the judge since December.

Last September, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Parliament that the Government did its due diligence and was satisfied in its decision to go against a recommendation of the Office on the Contractor General and instead proceed with issuing the licence to Caricel.

Meanwhile, attorney Bert Samuels says his law firm Knight Junor and Samuels will not be fazed by the possibility of visa cancellations.

Already the United States has cancelled the visas of several people, including three lawyers, linked to Caricel.

However, Samuels says his law firm will be fearless in representing its clients.