Telenor finds some Grameenphone sponsorships 'unacceptable'
Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-13 17:08:10.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-13 18:26:09.0 BdST
Telenor has pulled up Grameenphone around the issue of several local sponsorships, including one for a sports tournament of the Bangladesh armed forces. It finds the sponsorships 'unacceptable'.
In a press release, Telenor said that these sponsorship funds 'have not been allocated in accordance with the group's internal guidelines'.
It said that Telenor Group 2016 Internal Audit conducted a compliance review of the new guidelines and uncovered a new set of 'unacceptable' sponsorships.
"The agreements included sponsorships of sports tournaments, the security police’s jubilee celebrations, the refurbishment of their canteen as well as financial support to a phone book publication for the police."
"They should not have been allocated in the first place. This is unacceptable," said Telenor in a press release issued after the company's 2016 internal audit.
The Norwegian multinational telecommunication giant Telenor holds 55.8 percent of the shares in Grameenphone, while Grameen Telecom, the other main shareholder, holds 34.2 percent.
The remaining 10 percent of the shares are held by general retail and institutional investors.
Telenor's 2013 group audit first raised questions over Grameenphone's sponsorship of a sporting event by the Bangladesh armed forces.
The latest Telenor press release says that a group internal audit of the company discovered in 2013 that certain sponsorships had been in breach of Telenor internal guidelines.
"The most serious breach concerned a sporting event related to the Bangladesh Armed Forces," the press release said.
It said the 2016 audit has uncovered, among others, the sponsorship of an anniversary, and the refurbishment of a canteen used by the Bangladesh Police, including the elite police force, Rapid Action Battalion.
"Furthermore, the continued sponsoring of the same sporting event as in 2013 was discovered."
The 2016 audit has also objected to the funding of travel of two local journalists to West Africa and Sri Lanka and India in 2015-16.
The Telenor audit, however, said it had not "uncovered any transfer of funds to individuals in connection with these sponsorships."
But it found the sponsorships 'unacceptable'.
"Telenor is not satisfied that the measures taken after the 2013-audit did not prevent additional cases of unacceptable sponsorships," it said.
"Telenor is strengthening the routines for allocation of sponsorship funds. The current guidelines for sponsorships will be reviewed, and new sponsorship committees will be established in all business units of the Group."
But the Telenor press release did accept local compulsions for Grameenphone operations in Bangladesh.
"Grameenphone have received security services by the Bangladesh Police, also in connection with certain strikes carried out by local employees and service providers, among other places outside Grameenphone’s offices in 2015."
Grameenphone admitted to 'breaches in the approval of some sponsorships'.
In a press release, Bangladesh's largest telecom operator said: "Some deviations in the sponsorship approval process were uncovered during regular internal audits and have been fully addressed by the relevant internal functions both within Grameenphone and Telenor.
We are confident that the measures taken as a result of these findings will strengthen our internal processes while ensuring even stricter adherence to Grameenphone’s policies."
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