The police probe follows a $4.2-billion US civil claim filed in March by Turkish operator Turkcell accusing MTN of bribing Iranian and South African officials with cash and promises of defence equipment in order to secure the licence originally awarded to Turkcell.
“There are allegations of corruption. That’s exactly what we’re investigating,” Hawks spokesperson MacIntosh Polela said on Tuesday.
MTN officials were also accused of promising that Pretoria would vote favourably towards Tehran’s nuclear programme.
MTN officials have denied any wrongdoing and described the Turkcell case as without legal merit. Pretoria has also denied that its diplomacy is for sale.
An MTN spokesperson declined immediate comment on the Hawks investigation.
The scandal has thrown a harsh spotlight on MTN, a $31-billion company with close links to the ANC and one of the country’s great post-apartheid success stories.
MTN shares were 0.3% weaker at 11:27am GMT, a shade weaker that then overall Johannesburg stock market. – Reuters