Billing Aggregator Bankruptcy Filing Stuns Telecom Industry

Integretel's recent filing of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy action in the Northern District of California has stunned many experienced telecom players. Integretel acts as a billing aggregator for telecommunications service providers to provide LEC billing support functions. Those services are now in jeopardy based on the company's filing for bankruptcy protection which apparently arose due to the liabilities of one of its telecom clients. According to court papers filed by the debtor, Integretel's bankruptcy filing was precipitated by the Federal Trade Commission's assertion of a claim for the return of $1.4 million against the reserves of one of Integretel's clients - Access One - who is currently the subject of an FTC action based on alleged "cramming". The court papers indicate that despite being characterized as a reserve, the funds were not segregated as such, and were otherwise unavailable for disbursement, thus causing an asset shortfall. Integretel is no stranger to potential FTC liability, having settled FTC charges in 2002 based on its role for their role in an alleged illegal scheme misusing the international telephone billing system to charge consumers for "videotext" services - Internet-based "adult" entertainment - that the consumers claimed were never purchased or authorized. An emergency motion has been filed to release its cash management funds to continue operations, and is scheduled to be heard on Friday, September 21, 2007.

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