ISTANBUL–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The following is a statement from Turkcell.
Turkcell (NYSE: TKC) (BIST: TCELL) took legal action against South
African telecoms group MTN related to the disputed mobile license in
Iran in 2004 and a conclusion on the $4.2 billion lawsuit in South
Africa is anticipated this year.
“We don’t have any doubt about our claims,” says Serhat Demir, Turkcell
Executive Vice President of Legal and Regulation. “Turkcell is
determined to pursue this rightful case and confident that the judge
will rule in Turkcell’s favor. The seizure of documents during the
investigation, the criminal case, the arrest and suspicious death of
Ambassador Saloojee proves Turkcell’s claims. We expect solid
developments and a fair conclusion from South African police and
judiciary about the lawsuit by the end of this year – MTN’s continuous
denial and lack of a tangible statement will no longer prolong and
trivialize the case. This lawsuit for compensation represents a global
precedent case for companies investing in international markets under
fair competition and legal justice, and recognized and followed globally
as a case seeking for legal remedy.”
About Turkcell’s lawsuit against MTN
Turkcell was the highest bidder in the tender for the first private GSM
license of Iran in 2004 and despite Turkcell met all the requirements
before and after the tender, the license was given to South African
telecoms group MTN. Turkcell claimed that MTN bribed former ambassador
to Iran and filed a $4.2 billion lawsuit in South Africa in 2013 over
the disputed Iranian license. The judiciary decided to go on a trial
involving allegations that MTN bribed Iranian and South African
government officials four years late in June 2017, delayed by MTN’s
Simultaneously HAWKS, South Africa’s special unit against organized
crime, were running an investigation on MTN and a number of government
officials since 2004, based on Turkcell’s international bribery claims.
Within the scope of the investigation Yusuf Saloojee, the former South
Africa ambassador to Iran was arrested in the last February and later he
was released on bail.
The allegations on Saloojee included receiving bribe from MTN during the
process of giving the Irancell tender to MTN after taking it unlawfully
from Turkcell. The South African police announced that Saloojee, now a
retiree, had received 1.4 million rands (approximately $100.000) and
used it to buy a house in Pretoria. Saloojee was suspiciously pronounced
dead on March 18th.
Phuthuma Nhleko, Irene Charley and a number of high level MTN executives
were the main actors in the company’s expansion strategy, including Iran
during early 2000s. Therefore the claims are, they played a part in the
approval and implementation of decisions during the Iran tender process.
Other allegations are being involved in illegal actions such as
supporting Iran’s nuclear program, supply of high tech defense equipment
and bribing Iranian and South African officials in exchange for the GSM
license. It’s claimed that all these activities including illegal ones,
run by MTN to secure the tender after the announcement of Turkcell’s
win, were implemented under the code name “Project Snooker”.
MTN faces problems not only in South Africa but also Uganda and Nigeria.
The company’s Uganda CEO was deported over national security concerns
and in recent years a number of disagreements arose in Nigeria because
of unregistered SIM cards and corruption allegations concerning dividend
payments. The Nigerian Communication Commission had fined MTN 5.2
billion USD for unregistered SIM card records in 2015. After
negotiations the amount was reduced to 1.7 billion USD and Nigerian
government agreed on a payment plan. This time in 2018 The Central Bank
of Nigeria claimed that MTN had repatriated dividend 8.1 billion USD out
of the country and demanded the money be brought back. Nigerian
officials also claimed that MTN had approximately 2 billion USD unpaid
taxes. MTN reached an agreement with Nigerian officials about the
dispute on dividends and filed a lawsuit about the taxes.
Turkcell Corporate Communications Manager
Turkcell Corporate Communications Expert