Digicel to conduct internal probe over leaked phone bills

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Digicel, the telecommunications provider which has an arrangement with the Grenada government to service all of its telecommunications needs, Wednesday announced plans for an internal investigation into how the bill of a former public official came into the possession of a radio talk show host.

“We are aware of allegations being made by a local radio personality with regard to Digicel’s handling of customer information,” Digicel said in a statement.

“Our responsibility to our customers and to protecting their personal data is of paramount importance to us – and as a customer champion and good corporate citizen, we take instances of this nature very seriously. As such, we have moved swiftly to undertake an internal investigation to establish the facts in this matter,” the statement by the Irish-owned telecommunication provider added.

It has promised to update the public “as appropriate” on the investigations, adding “it’s also important to point out that, if appropriate, we will not hesitate to make use of any and all legal avenues open to us to defend our good reputation and that of our employees”.

Last week, an opposition political activist and talk show host told radio listeners that he is in possession of documents proving that the government had paid the telephone bills for former public officers, including two former legislators.

The Integrity Commission has hinted at the possibility of conducting an investigation into allegations that some former legislators were still using government funded mobile phones after reports surfaced of an EC$70,000 bill.

“Following reports circulating about the use of Government telephone accounts by public officials, the Commission has written to the relevant Government authorities to ascertain the veracity of such reports,” the Commission said in a statement.

“As Grenada holistically implements its anti-corruption, risk, fiscal and procurement management systems, the Integrity Commission reminds all public sector managers of their responsibilities to strengthen and implement internal controls over public expenditure for greater accountability, transparency and value for money,” said the Commission.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said he was embarrassed to learn of the situation and accepted the fact that former parliamentarians who government had assigned telephone numbers have been using the phones without making the necessary transfer for invoice payment to their names.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on the Integrity Commission, the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) and the RGPF (Royal Grenada Police Force) “to take the necessary actions to stop this theft from the Grenadian people”.

Press Secretary, Philomena Robertson, speaking to reporters during Tuesday’s post Cabinet meeting, said former public officials, still benefitting from the telephone programme, would have to repay the funds.

The statement from Digicel comes after the radio host informed his listeners on Tuesday night that he had earlier walked into the Digicel office and obtained three years of invoices in the name of one of the former public officers who used the government assigned phone.

One of the cell phone holders was a member of the Upper House from 2013 to 2016 while another served in the Lower House from 2013 to 2018. One of the bills was for an estimated EC$8,000 while the other was for approximately EC$70,000 for the period April, May and June 2019.