Fiber series third week news Abstract 5
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Verizon to add $2 bill-pay charge
Verizon Wireless, which this month angered customers with three separate data service problems, said on Thursday it will add a $2 fee for
one-time telephone and online bill payments.
The planned change, to take effect on January 15, was greeted by a storm of criticism.
Consumer blog Engadget said charging customers to pay was "downright ludicrous." Another tech website, cnet.com, said the move "made little
"The fee is designed to address costs incurred by us for only those customers who choose to make one-time bill payments in alternate
payment channels (online, mobile, telephone) and who choose not to use the other options available to them ...," Verizon Wireless spokesman
Thomas Pica said in an email.
Verizon Wireless rivals AT&T Inc and Sprint Nextel Corp said they do not charge their customers for any bill-payment options.
In addition, some customers complained on Verizon's online forum on Thursday about problems activating their new phones.
The episode followed reports of a problem with the company's high-speed network on Wednesday. Verizon, the biggest U.S. mobile service
provider, said on Thursday that it had resolved that issue overnight.
It did not give any details about the service problem but said phone call and text message services were not disrupted for high-speed
fourth generation (4G) customers and that its older third generation (3G) service was operating normally.
But some customers complained that they were having 3G service problems, while others said their 4G service was being restored on Thursday
morning. One person complained about the lack of a public announcement.
"At least acknowledge there is a problem, do you really expect your paying customers to not notice??" the person wrote on Verizon's online
Earlier this month the company, which has long boasted that its service is "most reliable," faced two data service problems. On December 8
some Verizon customers were unable to access the Internet on their wireless devices for about 24 hours. The company had to fix another
problem on December 21.
Verizon Wireless is a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc.
Deutsche Telekom in $95 million bribery settlement
German phone company Deutsche Telekom AG and a Hungarian unit will pay more than $95 million to settle U.S. criminal and civil probes into
the bribery of government officials in Macedonia and Montenegro.
The settlements resolve Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that Deutsche Telekom and its 60 percent
-owned Magyar Telekom unit violated the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
U.S. investigators said former Magyar executives arranged in 2005 and 2006 for the payment of 12.2 million euros ($15.8 million) to
intermediaries, expecting some of it to be funneled to the government officials in exchange for benefits to help it run or expand its
The SEC filed separate civil charges against three former Magyar executives: Chief Executive Elek Straub, director of central strategic
organization Andras Balogh, and director of business development and acquisitions Tamas Morvai.
"Magyar Telekom's senior executives used sham contracts to funnel millions of dollars in corrupt payments to foreign officials who could
help them keep competitors out and win business," Kara Novaco Brockmeyer, chief of the SEC enforcement division's unit handling FCPA cases,
said in a statement.
Thursday's settlements include $64 million of criminal penalties assessed by the Justice Department and a $31.2 million civil penalty
imposed by the SEC.
The Justice Department also agreed not to prosecute both companies if they comply with the law over the next two years. Both companies also
agreed to improve compliance programs.
Deutsche Telekom will pay $4.36 million of the criminal penalty. Magyar will pay the remaining $59.6 million, plus more than $31.2 million
in disgorgement and interest to the SEC.
THREE EXECUTIVES CHARGED BY SEC
Magyar said it previously set aside the full $90.8 million (21.75 billion forints) it owes in the settlements, and has taken several steps
to improve its practices.
Deutsche Telekom also confirmed the settlements. The executives plan to challenge the SEC's charges.
Straub "adamantly denies having engaged in any wrongdoing," according to his lawyer Carl Rauh, a partner at Hogan Lovells.
William Sullivan, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman representing Balogh, said: "No one has ever uncovered evidence of bribery of
any government officials for the simple reason that none ever occurred."
Michael Koenig, a partner at Greenberg Traurig representing Morvai, said: "There is a vast difference between allegations and actual
evidence. Simply because the SEC says it does not make it so."
SHAM CONTRACTS ALLEGED
Investigators said Magyar used sham consulting and marketing contracts to pay 4.88 million euros ($6.31 million) in 2005 and 2006 to an
Magyar expected some of the money to go to Macedonian officials who would provide regulatory benefits and keep a rival out of their market,
the investigators said.
Meanwhile, in Montenegro another 7.35 million euros ($9.51 million) was paid in 2005 to consultants under four sham contracts, under a plan
to help Magyar buy state-owned phone company Telekom Crne Gore AD on favorable terms, the SEC said.
Magyar entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, and Deutsche Telekom a nonprosecution agreement for
maintaining inaccurate books and records.
The Justice Department filed formal charging documents in court only against Magyar.
Deutsche Telekom was charged because it had filed financial statements with U.S. regulators that improperly reflected the payments. The
company and Magyar also had American depository receipts that traded at the time of the payments.
Last week, AT&T Inc ended its $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom.
The Justice Department filed its case with the U.S. district court in Alexandria, Virginia, while the SEC filed with the U.S. district
court in Manhattan.
The cases are U.S. v. Magyar Telekom Plc, U.S. District Court; Eastern District of Virginia, No. 11-cr-00597; SEC v. Magyar Telekom Plc et
al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-09646; and SEC v. Straub et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of
New York, No. 11-09645.
The above information is edited by 10GTEK.
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