Telco vendor in industrial espionage imbroglio

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Telco vendor in industrial espionage imbroglio

Tawdry tactics.

An employee of a major telco equipment vendor has caused disruption over Telekom Malaysia's tender for a 4G LTE rollout, with accusations of industrial espionage.

A worker at a multinational telco equipment vendor entered a rival company's facility overseas by masquerading as a member of the Malaysian telco's entourage, as first reported by Malaysia Mail Online (MMO).

The facility in question belongs to a Europe-based vendor partner of Telekom Malaysia.

Vendors reportedly invited for the LTE project include Huawei, Ericsson, Samsung and Alcatel-Lucent, according to Telecompaper.

A spokesperson for Telekom Malaysia told ITnews it had been made aware of the incident and a complaint had been lodged with the telco.

"In this incident, the person was part of a group of current Telekom Malaysia employees who were visiting the facility at that time, as part of a business trip in the ordinary course of TM's operation," the spokesperson said.

Telekom Malaysia has a zero tolerance policy on improper and irregular practices, the spokesperson said, and has suspended the employees involved.

A board subcommittee has been set up to investigate the matter, and Telekom Malaysia will inform the relevant authorities or parties "upon any substantial findings".

The spokesperson said the employees in question were not involved in any current and ongoing technical tenders, including the LTE tender.

However, Telekom Malaysia told MMO it was could not verify which two companies were involved so as to be fair to all parties involved in the tender process.

The European telco vendor has lodged a complaint with the Malaysian regulator over the intrusion.

This isn't the first time a Telekom Malaysia equipment vendor has been found using unorthodox business practices.

In March 2011, Alcatel-Lucent was blacklisted by Telekom Malaysia and mobile operator Axiata after one of its employees allegedly bribed a procurement manager at the telco. The ban was lifted December that year.

The year before, Alcatel-Lucent agreed to pay US$137 million in penalties and settlements in the United States, after it admitted to bribing officials in several countries, including Taiwan, Malaysia and Costa Rica. 

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