(Changes source to tax agency, adds context on anti-trust
QUITO, June 6 America Movil subsidiary
Claro must pay $123 million in back taxes to Ecuador as part of
a settlement to a six-year legal battle with the Andean
country's government, the tax authority said on Friday.
Ecuador's Supreme Court sided with the government in the
dispute, ruling that the telecommunications giant still owed
taxes for 2003 to 2006 despite an extra $113.5 million payment
it made last year for those years.
"The company must pay the Ecuadorean state $123 million, now
the Supreme Court has ruled," the country's tax authority said
in a statement.
The decision also requires the company to pay $29 million in
worker compensation. It was not clear whether this amount was
included in the $123 million bill or if it was separate.
"We anticipate that the company will pay the amount owed,"
the statement said.
Representatives for Claro were not immediately available for
Claro is the largest mobile operator in Ecuador, with a 67.8
percent share of the country's 17.8 million mobile customers.
Its parent company, America Movil, is controlled by Mexican
billionaire Carlos Slim.
Multinational Telefonica's Ecuador subsidiary has
28.86 percent of the cellphone market, according to the state
telecoms regulator, while the state company CNT has the
remaining 3.28 percent.
CNT recently won a complaint against Claro for
anti-competitive practices, for which the company was fined
$138.4 million. Claro is appealing the decision.
In 2008, America Movil paid around $480 million to renew its
concession to operate in the country until 2023.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia, writing by Julia Symmes Cobb;
Editing by Peter Murphy, Nick Zieminski and Richard Chang)