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Police investigate Singapore Sports Hub partner

Kannan Raj

Consistel, a partner of the Singapore Sports Hub is under police investigations and has been fined S$300,000 for falsifying documents and failing to seek approval from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) before it transferred antenna operations in the Sports Hub to Consistel Sprint, a joint venture between Consistel’s parent company and Asia Networks.

The IDA described the company's indiscretions on Monday (Aug 15) as the “most serious instance of misconduct” known so far.

Consistel was granted a licence by the IDA in March 2013, which is due for renewal in 2023.

The company built and hosts all wireless systems in the Singapore Sports Hub and then leases these to mobile operators like Starhub, Singtel and M1.

In June 2014, Consistel sought the IDA’s approval to transfer its licence to build, operate and maintain antenna systems inside the Sports Hub to Sprint.

In November that year, it submitted a “draft business transfer agreement” to the IDA, which turned out to be a bogus document, according to IDA's investigations.

IDA discovered that Consistel had signed agreements to sell the system to Sprint in October 2013, and executed deeds to transfer its asset to Sprint in February 2014. This was all done before approaching the IDA for approval.

In “deliberately” withholding the signed agreements despite repeated requests, and providing a false document instead, Consistel had misled the IDA into granting in-principle approval for its application.

Ms Aileen Chia, IDA’s director-general (telecoms and post), noted the “serious nature of Consistel’s contraventions” given that it played an important role in providing mobile telco services at the Sports Hub, a building of “national significance”.

She added that the authority expected “all licensees to conduct themselves with integrity, honesty and transparency when dealing with IDA” and “IDA takes the position that Consistel’s actions constitute grave misconduct by a licensee”.

The Singapore Sports Hub’s exclusive deal with Consistel is the first of its kind here. This partnership almost threatened to leave the Sports Hub without coverage because telcos refused to pay the rents demanded by Consistel which forced the IDA to intervene. The Singapore Sports Hub opened in June 2014.