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MPs back Canary Wharf telecoms firm in Bangladesh legal battle

PUBLISHED: 12:21 22 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:21 22 July 2014

Managing Director of Zamir Telecom Limited Naufal Zamir with staff in the office.

Managing Director of Zamir Telecom Limited Naufal Zamir with staff in the office.

Archant

A telecoms firm in Canary Wharf fighting for survival in a legal battle with Bangladesh’s state telecoms provider has called on MPs for help, warning that up to 54 staff members could lose their jobs.

MP Jim Fitzpatrick.
Photo: David MirzoeffMP Jim Fitzpatrick. Photo: David Mirzoeff

Zamir Telecom, which handles calls from London to Bangladesh, says the Bangladeshi government is trying to wreck its business to gain a monopoly of the telecoms industry.

The ongoing dispute, which saw state-run BTCL disconnect ZT from its telecoms network in March, has already lead to four redundancies at the company.

But at a packed meeting in parliament on July 15, managing director Naufal Zamir complained that UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government department for UK businesses working abroad, has failed to do enough to help them.

Speaking in parliament, Mr Zamir said: “I am disappointed with UKTI and Lord Livingston [Minister for Trade].

“In the past they have come to my aid and supported my company when BTCL and the government of Bangladesh have acted in a way that undermines the rule of law.

“Yet now, even when the minister may be in contempt of court, the UKTI is saying little and doing even less.”

The disconnection was ordered by controversial Bangladeshi telecoms minister Abdul Latif Siddique in breach of a court ruling against the move.

BTCL says the cut-off was due to ZT owing millions in unpaid fees, but ZT disputes this and says it has suffered heavy financial losses as a result.

Staff at ZT are worried about government interference and hopes the UK government will pressure Bangladesh to accept neutral arbitration in Switzerland or the US.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP, who has supported ZT, said the current situation “stinks” and that he would raise the case with the speaker of the parliament of Bangladesh.

David Burrowes MP said the case should be a “real priority for UKTI” and would bring it up at a high-level foreign office ministerial meeting, while James Brokenshire MP has written to UK commonwealth minister Baroness Warsi, urging her to help ensure the firm is treated fairly.

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