(Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $ 660,639 fine for a small wireless mobile operator in Montana, which commissioners say has been indirectly controlled by Russian oligarchs since at least 2011.
FCC voted to fine Truphone Ltd. for having exceeded statutory limits on the ownership of foreign individuals or entities affiliated with FCC-issued licenses without FCC approval. The FCC also requires Truphone to immediately submit corrective transfer of control applications.
The FCC said that during its investigation last month, Truphone revealed that a company controlled by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his children had a stake in the company.
Truphone did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday, but said in a statement on its website that its board was aware of news linking Abramovich to Truphone. The company confirmed that Mr. Abramovich has been a minority investor in the business since 2013 through Minden Worldwide.
A spokesman for Abramovich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company said that “in light of recent global events, the board has appointed FRP Advisory to support the company in an immediate review of its strategic options.”
FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks said the company had been indirectly owned by “a small group of Russian oligarchs since at least 2011.”
FCC President Jessica Rosenworcel said that in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Commission “launched an internal assessment of Russia’s ownership of telecommunications interests in the United States” and said that the action against Truphone was a result of that review.