Corruption inquiry says 70% of incoming international call revenues ‘diverted’ from BTCL

19 Nov 2012

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has performed an investigation into Bangladesh’s international incoming voice call sector in which it claimed to find evidence showing that, since 2010, revenues from around 70% of inbound calls which were meant to be shared with state-run Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) were instead wholly absorbed by other carriers appointed by the telco. As reported by local newspaper The Daily Star, the ACC alleges that, between late 2009 and 2011, BTCL broke regulations by bypassing both the regulator and the communications ministry in awarding contracts to a group of around 40 carriers to aggregate calls. The aggregators rent STM-1 lines from BTCL and connect incoming international calls to the state telco, including voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) calls which the carriers convert to PSTN traffic; the international call revenue is shared with BTCL. However, the ACC claims that around 70% of international call records had been erased from the call details recorder (CDR) at BTCL offices in Moghbazar and Mohakhali exchanges in Dhaka since 2009. The investigation also found that most of the call carriers/aggregators submitted fake bank guarantees, other required documents and addresses, and BTCL did not properly verify those documents. The ACC added that BTCL’s international call minutes had more than halved since early 2009 due to international calls bypassing proper channels, while according to rough estimates, the government has been deprived of BDT27.7 billion (USD332 million) a year through irregular handling of international calls. Despite several carriers being disconnected, illegal call routing remains a problem.

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