U.S. agency seeks fine Montana wireless operator tied to Russian oligarch

The Washington-Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a $ 660,639 fine for small Montana radio operators, which the Commissioner said has been indirectly controlled by the Russian oligarchs since at least 2011.

The FCC has told Montana-based iSmart Mobile owner London-based Truphone Ltd that it has exceeded the statutory restrictions on ownership by foreign individuals or groups associated with licenses issued by the FCC without FCC approval. I voted 4-0. The FCC also requires Truphone to promptly submit a modified transfer of the control application.

FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenwarsel said the Commission had “started an internal assessment of Russia’s ownership of telecommunications rights in the United States” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the proceedings against Torfon were the result of the review. Said there is.

Truphone will pay the fine within 30 days or provide a written notice requesting cancellation or reduction of the amount.

The FCC said during an investigation that it revealed last month that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and a company controlled by his children hold shares in the company.

Truphone and its US lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday, but in a statement on the Truphone website, Truphone said the board was aware of a news article linking Abramovich with the company. The company has confirmed that Abramovich has been a minority investor in this business through Minden Worldwide since 2013.

“In light of recent global events, the board has appointed FRP advisories to assist in the immediate review of the company’s strategic options,” the company said in a statement on April 1.

The FCC’s order said, “It seems terrible that Truphone did not report true and accurate ownership information. As a result of Truphone’s failure, US carriers have not been in control for over seven years. Passed to foreign entities and related individuals for review. “

Abramovich’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said the company “is indirectly owned by a small group of Russian oligarchs since at least 2011.” .. “

David Shepherdson