UPDATED: Mexico's telecom regulator president under fire for awarding contracts to friends

Mony de Swaan, the president of Mexico's telecom regulator Cofetel, is being criticized for awarding two contracts worth about $200,000 for businesses run by two of his friends, including a telecom lobbyist, Reuters reports.

According to the report, de Swaan signed off on these contracts, which were for public relations and legal work for Cofetel.

However, it was revealed that de Swaan did not get personally paid from these contracts and maintains he did not do anything illegal.

This report and the awarding of these contracts certainly calls de Swaan's credibility in question, as he leads an organization trying to foster greater competition in the telecom market that has been traditionally dominated by America Movil, a telecom conglomerate owned and operated by Carlos Slim. Last year, Slim consolidated all of his wireline and wireless holdings, including Telmex, under the America Movil company umbrella.

"In light of these contracts, any decision by the regulator could be questioned," said Shannon O'Neil, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and an expert on Latin America who has written about Slim and the Mexican telecom market.

In defending his actions, De Swaan said that he's always followed the rules set by Mexico's public servants' law and that the contract awards were reviewed by other Cofetel officials and they had no effect on any regulatory issues he oversees. "Mine is an irreproachable track record over 14 years as a public servant."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- Bloomberg also has this article

Related articles:
Telmex forced to reduce rural wireline interconnection fees
Cofetel wants Telmex to reduce phone service prices further
Mexico's Cofetel leader Hector Osuna won't seek another term
Telmex's dominant power means facing tighter regulations
America Movil fighting $1 billion fine for network access charges

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