Officials from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday agreed to delay implementing an injunction to freeze the assets of Mfone Co. Ltd. until Friday, when the mobile operator’s executive director arrives back in Cambodia for questioning.
On January 17, the court issued an injunction against Mfone after Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. submitted a complaint alleging that Mfone owed it more than $65 million in unpaid bills.
“Mfone requested a delay until Friday afternoon because they said the company’s director was unavailable to answer to officials implementing the injunction,” said Kuoy Thunna, a lawyer representing Huawei.
On Tuesday afternoon, deputy prosecutor Keu Bunnara and deputy governor of Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district, Prum Samkhan delivered the court’s injunction warrant, signed by municipal court Judge Sin Visal, to Mfone’s headquarters on Monivong Boulevard.
The officials were supposed to take an inventory of Mfone’s assets, but after an hour-long meeting with Thakutkaew Punyawai, the company’s relations manager, the officials and Ms. Punyawai instead signed a note to delay the injunction until Friday afternoon, when Mfone executive director Jiroj Srinamwong will be available for questioning.
“[Mr. Srinamwong] is outside the country and there is no one available for the [court] to record as stated in the warrant,” the signed note states.
The injunction was the second filed against Mfone in the past four months. In October, Eltek Valere, a Norwegian energy company, won an injunction against Mfone after it claimed the operator had failed to pay $3.73 million in service charges.
Then on January 14, Eltek filed a criminal complaint against Mfone after the operator moved its subscribers to another operator, Mobitel, claiming the move violated the initial injunction.
Last week, Huawei bought an advertisement in a local newspaper, making similar claims that Mfone’s subscriber transfer breached the terms of the court’s injunction.
Ian Watson, CEO of Mobitel, said that he was unable to comment on the court’s decision to delay the injunction. “I am not going to comment,” he said.
Mr. Thunna, who also represents Eltek, said that Mfone’s move to migrate subscribers to Mobitel also hurt Huawei.
“[It is] injustice…thus my client wishes to request the court to manage this case immediately,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)
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