Carlos Slim's phone company ordered to pay Calif. $24M in fees

PANAMA EXPOCOMER

ARNULFO FRANCO/AP

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim speaks during the "Expocomer 2005" trade show in Panama City, Panama, Wednesday, March 2, 2005.

California's public utilities regulator has ordered a phone company owned by the world's richest man to pay $24 million in unpaid fees and interest.

In a July 11 decision, the California Public Utilities Commission says TracFone Wireless, a prepaid phone company owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, didn't pay fees required of all regulated telecommunications companies.

Regulators say no penalty is warranted, but because no fees or surcharges were collected from customers up front, the company will bear the cost.

TracFone can appeal or request review within 30 days of the decision.

Separately, TracFone has been involved in a dispute with an immigrant rights group. Two Countries, One Voice has accused Slim of monopolistic business practices. Slim's company filed a complaint alleging the immigrant rights group used phony grass-roots organizations to lobby the American government, but the state's Fair Political Practices Commission found there was not enough evidence to back  such a claim.

An email to TracFone wasn't immediately returned and there was no answer at their listing.

For the fourth consecutive year, Slim was named the world's richest man by Forbes in March, when his net worth tallied $73 billion.

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