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Dublin Opinion >>
Dubious Ethics – Denis O’Brian and Digicel
Sunday February 10, 2013 04:57 by hj foley
Is it really all about P2P?
Digicel and the countries it operates in. The story also details the level of corruption in these countries
Dubious Ethics – Denis O’Brian and Digicel
I often wonder if O’Brian’s operation motto is, “who do we reach? What do we pay?”
One suspects when it comes to cutting a deal the bold Denis may have more than just have a passing acquaintance with *P2P etiquette.
March 2010, a judicial tribunal found that a former minister for communications, Michael Lowry, “secured the winning” of the 1995 mobile phone license competition for Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone. The tribunal also found that O’Brien made two payments to Lowry, in 1996 and 1999, totaling approximately £500,000, and supported a loan of Stg£420,000 given to Lowry in 1999. In his 2,348-page report, Mr. Justice Michael Moriarty found that the payments from O’Brien were “demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr. Lowry” during the licence process, acts which benefited Esat Digifone. In effect, O’Brien was trading in influence or ‘legal corruption’
The Moriarty Report states that it is ‘beyond doubt’ that Michael Lowry imparted substantive information to Denis O’Brien that was ‘of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence’.
It states that documentation, which contained ‘sensitive information’, was found in files in the possession of Esat Digifone. The report states it is unable to conclude how the company obtained the information on the weighting matrix adopted by the project group.
The report states that Michael Lowry displayed ‘an appreciable interest’ in the process and had ‘irregular interactions with interested parties’ at what it terms ‘most sensitive stages’.
It also found that Mr. Lowry made his preferences on the leading candidates known.)
Forbes magazine said of O’Brian
“Despite coups, corruption, and kidnappings, Denis O’Brien keeps pouring money into the world’s poorest, most violent countries. His bet: Give phones to the masses and they will fight your enemies for you.
Is it just one of those oddities of life that O’Brian just happens to likes doing business where corruption is endemic?
History would suggest that this is no mere coincidence.
Let us look at how some of the countries that Digicel operates in, and see how they stack up in terms of corruption
This first figure is the ranking position of the country. The number of countries measured is 176
The Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). While no country has a perfect score, score below 50, indicate serious corruption problems.
Haiti sits in 165th position, with a corruption index of 19
Papua New Guinea, 150 -25
Guyana, 133- 28
Jamaica 83- 38
Panama, 83- 38
El Salvador 83 – 38
Trinidad and Tobago 80- 39
Possible soon to be added to the Digicel list is Myanmar sitting in 172nd position with a corruption index of 16
O’Brien’s Jamaica-headquartered company, Digicel Group, began offering cheap cell phone service recently from Papua New Guinea. Razor wire and half-dozen guards carrying shotguns and pistols protect the Digicel office in Papua New Guinea.
The murder rate in this Pacific hellhole is one of the highest in the world. Corruption is also rife in PNG
DOB’s Digicel up to its old tricks in Myanmar
Bermuda-incorporated Digicel was founded in 2001 and has operations in 28 countries in small markets in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific. Its main market is Jamaica where it has about a 75% market share and in June was fined by the regulator for anti-competitive behavior. In May, the Jamaican tax authorities raided its Jamaican offices.
*P2P = Pay to Play