WASHINGTON—In the midst of its circulating U.S. media ownership rules reported to maintain the status quo, the Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday that Puerto Rico Telephone Co. and its parent company, América Móvil of Mexico, will pay $1.1 million to resolve an investigation by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. Stock purchases of América Móvil by its owner Carlos Slim Helú and his family repeatedly exceeded the foreign ownership levels approved by the commission.
“Foreign companies doing business in the United States and its territories must follow all federal rules, including those governing their ownership of American companies” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “The FCC ensures that foreign ownership in American telecommunications carriers is in the public interest, considering issues related to competition, national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy. This is the largest fine for a violation of foreign ownership and control limits because of the Slim family’s repeated violations.”
Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC), a telecommunications carrier operating in the United States territory of Puerto Rico, and América Móvil, S.A.B. de C.V. (América Móvil) of Mexico, have exceeded their approved foreign ownership three times in five years. Most recently, in June 2014, the Slim family increased its ownership in and control of América Móvil through a purchase of stock from AT&T International. This also increased the family’s ownership in FCC licensee PRTC beyond the voting and equity interests then approved by the agency’s International Bureau in accordance with the FCC’s foreign ownership rules and policies.
As part of Tuesday’s settlement, PRTC and América Móvil have each agreed to adopt compliance plans to prevent future stock purchases by the Slim family that would exceed foreign ownership limits without first receiving the International Bureau’s review and approval. The plans require both companies to develop and implement monitoring of compliance with the commission’s rules governing foreign ownership. The plans include designating compliance officers, developing a comprehensive compliance plan, and reporting regularly on compliance.
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