MTN slapped with $4.2bn Turkcell lawsuit

Turkish cellphone company Turkcell has opened a lawsuit in South Africa against rival telecoms company MTN Group seeking damages for losses it says it incurred in Iran.

Turkcell filed a $4.2-billion lawsuit in Washington last year alleging the Johannesburg-based cellphone giant used bribery to win a mobile licence in Iran that was first awarded to Turkcell.

It dropped the suit in May after a US Supreme Court ruling in a separate case made clear that US courts would not have jurisdiction in a matter involving two foreign firms in a dispute outside the United States.

"In a continuation of this process, Turkcell today [Wednesday] opened a lawsuit against MTN in the South Gauteng high court in Johannesburg seeking damages for losses incurred as a result of MTN's actions," the Turkish company said.

In its US filing, Turkcell claimed MTN won the Iranian contract in 2005 by offering to use its influence in Pretoria to help Tehran obtain military hardware and sway South Africa's votes at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

'Brazen orchestra of corruption'
Backed by a collection of alleged MTN internal documents including emails, invoices, memos and presentations, Turkcell's lawsuit accused the South African company of a "staggeringly brazen orchestra of corruption".

MTN rejected the Turkcell allegations and appointed a retired British judge to lead an external investigation into them. That probe dismissed the accusations as "a fabric of lies, distortions and inventions".

An MTN spokesperson declined immediate comment. – Reuters

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