Colombia’s biggest ever phone bill: Mobile giant Claro pays $45million fine

Posted on Dec 16 2013 - 7:58am by Editor
(Photo: El Financiero)

TV and telecoms giant Claro paid the largest fine in Colombian history after being found guilty of engaging in anti-competitive activities.

Colombian regulatory body , the Superintendent of Industry and Commerce said the fines were due on Monday but Colombian financial magazine Portafolio reported the company had paid the fine in full on Friday.

Claro allegedly prevented customers from using the bandwidth of another operator on their mobile phones, for which they were fined $27 million. They were also accused of inflating figures relating to the number of their mobile phone users, for which they incurred a further $17 million fine.

Claro was formerly known as Comcel S.A, but changed its name in 2012 following the purchase of its operations by Mexican telecoms company Movil, owned by Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world worth an estimated $73 billion.

MORE: Colombian telecommunications companies Comcel, Telmex to change name

New fine system working?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said in a 2009 report that Colombia’s competition law is one of the oldest in Latin America. But after the law was approved by the national Congress in 1959, Colombia has struggled to appropriately prosecute and fine violators.

One reason for this may be that until this year, Colombia did not have a methodology for fixing fines that were imposed as a result of violations to competition rules, the OECD said in a report in July.

At the start of 2013, Colombia’s Superintendency of Industry and Commerce started to build a system that would make the allocation of fines fair and in proportion with the scale of the violation.

The Claro case is one of the biggest of its kind since the change.

Cement, sugar, rice, medicines

This year in particular, Colombian regulators have been targeting price-fixing across the country.

MORE: The other kind of Cartel: Colombia investigates cement industry for anti-trust violations

Among the industries being investigated include Cement, sugar, rice and even medicines.  In July Colombia announced a cap on the price of 195 pharmaceutical drugs it says is being sold over price in the country.

MORE: Colombia should place cap on 195 high-cost drugs suspected of price-fixing: Commission


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