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India Body Seeks Audit Details
October, 15th 2009

India's main accounting industry body Thursday said it has asked the country's telecommunications department for information following media reports that a government-appointed auditor has found Reliance Communications Ltd. overstated revenue and underpaid license fees for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India said also that it has asked Parakh & Co., the auditor, for details of the allegations, which Reliance Communications has rejected.

"We will only take a view after getting the details," ICAI President Uttam Prakash Agarwal told Dow Jones Newswires.

A Department of Telecommunications official involved in the process confirmed that it has received the report, and that it is working on it "internally."

Reliance Communications, India's second-largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, Thursday denied any "irregularity or discrepancy" in its audited accounts.

"A copy of the report has not been received as yet by RCoM, and nor has DoT (Department of Telecommunications) at this stage sent any communication in this regard," the company said.

The statement added that the auditor hasn't even discussed the "alleged report/findings" with RCoM.

"An appropriate response will be provided as and when DoT provides a copy of the report to RCoM and seeks its explanation," the company said.

Despite this, the company's shares fell for the third day in a row.

At 0453 GMT, the stock was down 1.7% at 227.75 rupees ($4.95) in a flat Bombay Stock Exchange market.

Earlier this week, local news agency Press Trust of India, citing a special auditor's report, said Reliance Communications had evaded 3.15 billion rupees in license fees.

The report said also that the company has inflated its reported income by 29.15 billion rupees. According to the audit committee report, which was submitted to the DoT, the company's actual wireless revenue was 122.98 billion rupees, rather than the reported 152.13 billion rupees, PTI said.

Reliance Communications had issued a denial after the PTI report was published.

Earlier in the year, the department had named Parakh & Co. to conduct a special audit of the books of Reliance Communications after analysts expressed concerns over the way the company reports different annual gross revenue numbers to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and to the stock exchanges.

The issue comes at a time when the Indian telecommunications sector is under pressure amid an intense tariff war and declining key parameters such as average revenue per user.

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