Telecommunications group MTN CEO Sifiso Dabengwa on Friday rejected allegations of corruption relating to its 49% stake in Irancell as “unfounded” and said it expects the claims to be dismissed.
Turkcell has launched a lawsuit in a US court accusing the South African firm of engaging in corrupt behaviour to secure a mobile licence in Iran.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, this week confirmed that it would probe the allegations.
“We cooperate with the authorities, and we are prepared to cooperate with the Hawks in any investigation by them into this matter. MTN has been threatened and attacked by a disappointed competitor and a disgruntled former employee,” Dabengwa said.
Turkcell is claiming that MTN lobbied South Africa to back Tehran's nuclear development. A former employee also reportedly admitted to bribing South Africa’s former ambassador to Iran.
“The claims made by Turkcell in US proceedings have no legal merit and no place in a US court,” Dabengwa said.
“The former employee who is the source of the claims has been shown, through the evidence in his deposition, not to be a credible witness. He is being paid by Turkcell for his role in their legal claims, and has admitted that he is motivated by a grudge against MTN's former management,” Dabengwa added.
MTN also dismissed Turkcell's allegations that MTN was engaged in a ‘cover-up’ as “simply nonsense”.
“We are confident that the investigation will determine whether there was any misconduct on the part of the former employee now working for Turkcell, or by any other MTN employee,” he concluded.
Phuthuma Nhleko, who stepped down as MTN CEO in March 2011 after ten years at the company, also, this week, again, denied the Turkcell allegations. He has described the claims as “inexplicable” and “irresponsible”.