MTN seeks to 'set record straight'

2012-06-08 17:02

Johannesburg - The MTN Group [JSE:MTN] CEO Sifiso Dabengwa said on Friday the record needed to be set straight regarding allegations of bribery relating to a mobile phone licence in Iran.

"MTN has been threatened and attacked by a disappointed competitor and a disgruntled former employee," he said in a statement.

Dabengwa said MTN had come under increasing public scrutiny after attacks by opponents to its non-controlling 49% stake in Irancell.

Claims made by Turkcell in US proceedings had no legal merit and no place in a US court.

"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," Dabengwa said.

"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."

He said in contrast to Turkcell's public statements, the former employee's evidence was significantly discredited in his recent deposition as largely based on speculation, innuendo and hearsay.

Former MTN group CEO Phuthuma Nhleko also denied allegations of bribery on Wednesday.

"No bribes were approved or paid with my consent, or the consent of the MTN Group during my tenure as CEO of MTN," Nhleko said in a statement.

"The allegations now made by Turkcell are being made inexplicably for the first time in almost seven years after the licence was issued in Iran."

Nhleko was the group's CEO and was president of the MTN group of companies for almost 10 years, until March 2011.

Turkcell filed a $4.2bn (about R35.5bn) civil claim in March, in which it accused MTN of bribing Iranians and South Africans to get the licence, which was originally awarded to Turkcell.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela confirmed on Tuesday that the elite police unit was looking into the claims.

"There are allegations. We first did an assessment (to test) the strength of the allegations. After this we decided to do a follow-up investigation," he said.

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said earlier allegations against a high-ranking former MTN executive had emerged.

The executive, who was named by Maynier in his statement, allegedly engaged in "unprecedented corrupt acts" in order to win the mobile operating licence in Iran.

Maynier claimed: "A payment of $400 000 (about R3.38m) was made by MTN to Iran's former deputy foreign minister Javid Ghorbanoghli for assistance in securing the mobile operating licence."

Maynier said MTN also allegedly made a payment of $200 000 (about R1.69m) to a South African diplomat - who was also named - to assist with the delivery of a pro-Iran position at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"MTN financed a trip by Iran's nuclear negotiation chief Hassan Rowhani to meet former president Thabo Mbeki, to discuss South Africa's position on Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency," Maynier charged.

  • Makhumuzi - 2012-06-08 17:12

    hhmmm so why is the DA only coming out now about this? - 2012-06-08 17:18

      oh my word i never knew that MTN had a black CEO, no wonder there are talks and allegations of corruption again.

      bobby.mykonos - 2012-06-08 17:25

      The DA didn't come out with this. This is a case that is already being fought in the American courts. What you are reading now is an article written by a newspaper designed to stir up emotions. That is why they mention the DA even though the quote was made a while ago, but they know that they can throw the DA in because it will make the story more exciting and controversial. Just like you are doing Makhumuzi. You comment on only one thing in the article, the DA. Is there nothing else you have to say about what is contained in the article?

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-08 17:35

    You're doing business with one of the last truly oppressive regimes left in the world. As a South African company, this should be unconscionable to you. Apparently it is not. There is only one way to "set the record straight". Dissolve your investment forthwith and resolve to never do business with oppressive regimes.

  • Matthew Patrick - 2012-06-08 17:46

    The allegations against the MTN group are just that, allegations. Let's let the courts and inquests decide. At the moment, in my opinion, it appears that Turkcell initially got the bid but couldn't come up with the money when it mattered and MTN could.

  • Sihle KaMazibuko Mkhize - 2012-06-08 18:33

    It's annoying that in every story News24 posts there must be a comment from a DA person.....bloody moron repeating stuff that's already been

      Sokhululeka - 2012-06-09 18:18

      Thank you, thinking they bloody clever. The DA will never rule SA ever, come rain or shine!!!

  • Sifiso Mngadi - 2012-06-08 18:48

    i miss mbeki on presidency a visionary economist, deals like would get from favourable countries to SA

  • eric.schollar - 2012-06-09 10:04

    Irrespective of bribery, the fact that MTN is in bed with the disgusting Iranian regime with no intention of disinvestment is enough to stop using their services. That's the good thing about competition.

      Sokhululeka - 2012-06-09 18:15

      America and the West is in a credit crisis! They want Iranian Oil! Wake Up brother!

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