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Truphone facing FCC fine for failure to disclose Russian ties

Jessica RosenworJessica Rosenworcelcel 2018.jpg

Truphone is facing a fine of $660,000 by the FCC over alleged ties to Russian oligarchs.

Truphone owns US carrier iSmart Mobile and is required to receive approval from the FCC before letting a foreign entity hold more than 25% of its equity.

The company counts Roman Abramovich as one of its primary financial contributors, with the Chelsea FC owner previously helping to raise $200 million from two separate funds.

Abramovich has already been sanctioned by the UK, EU and Canada but not the US.

In a statement released in April, Truphone acknowledged its ties to Abramovich but insisted he did not have a “relevant interest” meaning the business can “operate as usual”.

The FCC, though, says the company had “misrepresented” its ownership, adding that over several years, the ownership of Truphone and control of its FCC licenses were transferred repeatedly to foreign individuals and entities without accurate disclosure.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, FCC chairwoman announced an “internal assessment” of Russian ownership in US telecoms.

The crackdown placed tougher restrictions on Russian-owned firms operating within the US and the FCC previously conducted a similar probe with Chinese companies.

Rosenworcel previously said in a statement: “We now have a clear process for revoking a foreign carrier’s existing authorisation when our national security colleagues recommend that we do so.

“You can see this in the actions we took with China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks, and ComNet.

“We are also working with our federal partners to establish a broader review of foreign carrier authorizations to provide service in the United States.”

The FCC says Truphone will be given an opportunity to respond and will consider its submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter.

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