A telecom firm owned by Mexican magnate Carlos Slim -- one of the richest men in the world -- said Tuesday it plans to contest a $138.5-million fine in Ecuador.
Ecuador claims the company, Conecel, was acting illegally by pressuring and having exclusive business ties to people who own land used by broadcast towers, blocking Ecuador's public telecom company CNT from building antennas there.
The fine, issued in a decision last week, followed an investigation by the National Telecommunications Board. In October 2012, it said Conecel was abusing its local market dominance
But Conecel has vigorously denied the charges.
It "did not put any barrier to block CNT from deploying its network and therefore didn't block or impede competition," Teodoro Maldonado, head of Conecel's legal team, told reporters as he announced the company would contest the fine.
Maldonado said the regulator did not take into consideration evidence advanced by Conecel, and Conacel was not given access to the evidence given by CNT.
Conecel, which controls 67 percent of the market, is the cell market leader in Ecuador, followed by the Spanish company Telefonica (30 percent) and CNT (barely 2.5 percent).
The fine would be equivalent to around 10 percent of Conecel's 2012 sales.
The company, which operates under the name Claro in other countries, has been in Ecuador since 1993. In 2012, it was ordered to pay a fine of $193 million for overdue taxes.
Slim for many years was listed by Forbes as the wealthiest man in the world.