Telecom giant, MTN has come out to respond to the statement issued by Ezee money, in regards to the Shs 2.3b, High court ordered MTN to pay to EzeeMoney as damages for sabotaging the latter’s mobile money business.
MTN Uganda said it was wrong for EzeeMoney to issue a press statement on matters which are still pending consideration by the Court of Appeal.
MTN also finds it wrong to disparage the company when it is not in competition with EzeeMoney with regard to communications services, and when EzeeMoney was not denied any service.
The telecom company also says it’s inaccurate for EzeeMoney to state that MTN “perceived EzeeMoney’s innovative offerings as a threat” when all MTN did was to require EzeeMoney to engage MTN directly, and to require EzeeMoney to use the prepaid services.
According to a statement issued by MTN’s lawyers, Kampala Associated Advocates, it all started in 2012, when EzeeMoney sought MTN’s services, namely an E1 Modem line and 30 fixed telephone lines, to be used for its money transfer services.
MTN granted the services but because EzeeMoney was a new Company with no prior business with MTN, and hence it did not meet the post-paid service conditions (trade vetting requirements), MTN advised EzeeMoney that it could not provide these services which were post paid.
MTN instead migrated EzeeMoney to the prepaid service.
MTN said that EzeeMoney also wanted the telecom company to provide SMS aggregation services, but they went through a third party, “Yo Uganda Ltd”.
However, according to MTN, the telecom company advised Yo Uganda Ltd to ask EzeeMoney, to engage MTN directly, which EzeeMoney never did.
EzeeMoney then filed a suit against MTN contending mainly, that MTN had breached provisions of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013.
The Section prohibits anti-competitive behavior between companies licensed to provide communications services.
MTN’s main defense was that EzeeMoney is not a licensed communications services provider who is protected by the Uganda Communications Act, and the above law did not apply to it.
MTN also said that EzeeMoney was not terminated but were migrated to the prepaid service, as EzeeMoney did not meet the trade vetting requirements, and that EzeeMoney had been invited to engage MTN directly, which they never did.
According to MTN, EzeeMoney was never denied any service by MTN Uganda.
The Commercial Court judge, Henry Peter Adonyo in his ruling on November 6, 2015, found that EzeeMoney’s money transfer services were communications services, although EzeeMoney is not registered.
The Court held that although EzeeMoney is not a licensed communications services provider, MTN breached the law that prohibits anti-competitive conduct against providers of communications services.
The Court therefore awarded EzeeMoney Shs 2.3 Billion as damages.
After the judgement was passed by court, MTN Uganda commenced an appeal by filing the necessary documents, which were served on EzeeMoney on November 10, 2015.
According to the Telecom giant, it cannot be liable for breaching a law that prohibits anti-competitive behaviour against licensed communications services provider when, EzeeMoney’s provides mobile financial services, and is not a licensed communications service provider.
MTN says the press statement was inaccurate and the company can never be “hostile and underhanded actions” or “abusive and predatory anti-competitive behavior” as EzeeMoney alleges.
MTN also disclosed that although they are aware that some of EzeeMoney’s employees, in particular Irene Kawuma who was charged and convicted by the High Court to imprisonment for 15 years for committing fraud against MTN for causing it loss of over Shs 450 Million, MTN has never used that as a reason to deny, and has never denied EzeeMoney access to its services.
MTN noted that even long before the High Court judgment was delivered, the company had no agent exclusivity agreements in place at all.