A recent news report says that the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) had plans to launch criminal proceedings against Thomas Hundt, now the newly appointed Group Chief Strategy & Technology Officer of Malaysia-based Axiata.
In a letter dated October 22 sighted by Nikkei Asia, the TRC requested a “prosecutor to summon and take legal action against Thomas Hundt the CEO of Smart in accordance with criminal procedures.”
German-born Thomas Hundt (picture), 44, was the CEO of Smart Axiata for 13 years, from February 2008 until October 2021. Smart Axiata, a telecommunications provider in Cambodia, is a 72.48% subsidiary of Axiata Group.
In a statement released on its website, the TRC detailed its claims against Smart Axiata, reports Nikkei Asia. The statement says a “special audit” done with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) had uncovered “illegal laying of fiber-optic cable” by the company in three rural areas totaling 16 km. “As a result, evidence has been seized and retained for further legal procedures, which may lead to possible arrests of related individuals and actions against Smart Axiata.”
Nikkei Asia reported that the MPTC said Smart had been cited for “avoiding the payment of some of its microwave license fee obligations,” laying fiber-optic cable without a license, and possessing “unapproved radiocommunication and telecommunication equipment.”
The agency said Smart’s technicians had initially refused to cooperate with officials, prompting the TRC to file a complaint.
“TRC filed a complaint with the Prosecution Department attached to the Court of First Instance of Takeo Province but has subsequently withheld such a complaint following Smart’s technicians’ cooperation,” the MPTC said.
The ministry added that it had issued “numerous” compliance warnings and taken similar measures against other operators in the sector.
“MPTC and TRC will continue to inspect legal and technical compliance, and action will be taken against noncompliant operators in order to protect consumer rights and benefit compliant operators in line with the principles of fair and equal competition, and transparency,” Nikkei Asia reported.
Nikkei Asia said that Smart Axiata did not respond to requests for comment.
The Axiata Group appointed Thomas Hundt as its Group Chief Strategy & Technology Officer on 26 October, “with immediate effect”. The statement however, did not mention about any legal issues in Cambodia. He was previously the Group Executive Vice President for Technology of Axiata Group, from January 2020 until October 2021.
Axiata says that Thomas “will be pivotal in driving Group-wide innovation and technological advancement in the region and beyond and will be instrumental in securing new and long-term growth opportunities as the Group strengthens its top management to deliver its ambitious digital transformation agenda.”
In connecting Thomas’ relationship with Axiata in Cambodia, Dato’ Izzaddin Idris, President & Group Chief Executive Officer of Axiata said, “Thomas was first the CEO for Smart Mobile since 2008, and steered the greenfield company to where it successfully merged with Star-Cell in 2011 and subsequently with Hello Axiata in 2013, moving quickly from the number eight position to number three in the market. Under his capable stewardship, Smart Axiata grew rapidly to eventually become the number one player in the country.”
With the new appointment, Thomas will relocate to Kuala Lumpur. At the moment, Thomas is also the Non-Independent Non-Executive Director of Celcom Axiata Berhad since 23 March 2020. Celcom is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Axiata Group.
[PDF Screenshot]– Nikkei Asia