Fresh twist in MTN, Turkcell dispute


Representatives from South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, popularly known as the Hawks, raided the offices of MTN last week Friday, the telco confirmed in a statement today.

The raid had to do with the long-running dispute between Istanbul-based Turkcell which is claiming damages against MTN as a result of MTN having acquired a 49% interest in Irancell in 2005. The Turkish company says MTN engaged in illicit activity to obtain a GSM licence in Iran.

MTN continues to defend itself and says it is "cooperating fully" with this investigation.

In a statement, the telco says the Hawks: "Visited both MTN and MTN's external legal counsel to obtain documents relating to aspects of the Turkcell litigation pursuant to MTN's original self-reporting of this matter and the Turkcell complaint."

The statement went on to say: "MTN remains of the view that Turkcell's claim is opportunistic, an abuse of the process of court, baseless and without merit.

"When the allegations made by Turkcell were first raised, MTN appointed an Independent Special Committee under the Chairmanship of the eminent international jurist, Lord Leonard Hoffmann, to investigate the allegations. Lord Hoffmann embarked upon a thorough and exhaustive analysis of the investigations. He found that Turkcell's allegations, which rested entirely upon the evidence of one Mr Christian Kilowan, were all 'a fabric of lies, distortions and inventions'; and that Mr Kilowan was shown to be 'a fantasist and a conspiracy theorist'.

"Lord Hoffmann was also very clear in finding that he was entirely satisfied that there was no conspiracy between MTN and Iranian officials to remove Turkcell from the licence process in Iran, that there were no promises made to procure the South African government to supply defence equipment to Iran or to support Iran's nuclear policy, nor that MTN had advanced sham loans to its Iranian partners, nor indeed that any promises of payment to Iranian or South African officials were made or authorised by Mr Nhleko or Ms Charnley."

This is the fifth time that Turkcell has attempted to pursue legal proceedings against MTN for the same issue. All previous attempts have failed.

MTN says: "The ongoing attempt to re-litigate complaints that Turkcell have repeatedly litigated without success are contrary to the interests of justice.

"To the extent that Turkcell may contend that any new issues have been raised in their summons, these issues were considered and disposed of in the Hoffmann Report. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations have been provided with a full copy of the Hoffman report together with the detailed annexures."