Algerian court fines Orascom Telecom $1.3bn

29 March 2012

Fine levied for breaches of foreign exchange regulations

Egyptian telecom operator Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) has been fined $1.3bn by an Algerian Court for breaches of foreign exchange regulations.

The judgment was passed on 28 March and included a criminal sentence against an executive member of OTH’s Algerian subsidiary, Djezzy. It relates to a previously disclosed claim brought against the company in 2010 by the Algerian authorities.

According to a statement issued by Vimpelcom, the Russian operator that owns 51.9 per cent of OTH, Djezzy is “taking the necessary steps to file an appeal. The lodging of the appeal will provisionally suspend the judgment.”

On January 9 this year, Algeria’s Finance Ministry and Vimpelcom entered a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the sale of Djezzy to the Algerian state. Reuters reported that the ministry has agreed to buy the unit for $6.5bn. It is unclear whether the offer is for 51 per cent of the company or 100 per cent.

A spokesman for Vimpelcom refused to comment on the broader situation, but did confirm that the MoU still stands.

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