MTN will “vigorously defend” itself against the latest lawsuit brought by rival Turkcell in the high court in Johannesburg, the JSE-listed mobile telecommunications group said on Thursday.
MTN said the latest suit from Turkcell, which operates the largest mobile network in Turkey, represents the fifth claim brought after it was unsuccessful in securing a mobile telecoms licence in Iran.
“As MTN, we view this as nothing but a spurious attempt to claim monies to which Turkcell is not entitled,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
Earlier this year, Turkcell, which claims that MTN’s “unlawful actions” cost it the Iranian licence, claims it withdrew legal action it had taken in the US courts because a change in jurisdiction laws.
“Turkcell was awarded Iran’s first private GSM licence in 2004, but was unlawfully prevented from receiving the licence,” the company said on Wednesday.
Turkcell has alleged previously that MTN conspired with and bribed Iranian officials to win the Iran licence that, it claimed, had originally been promised to it.
“Information received by Turkcell indicates that our company’s exclusion, and the signing of the licence agreement with MTN, was a consequence of MTN’s illegal acts, including bribery and corruption, in 2004 and 2005,” it said.
Turkcell is seeking US$4,2bn in damages from MTN, plus interest and legal costs.
MTN said three of the suits brought by Turkcell and its subsidiary, East Asian Consortium, have already been dismissed.
“MTN maintains that it did not cause Turkcell to lose out on its obtaining a mobile licence in Iran, as has been claimed by Turkcell. Its inability to procure the licence was as a result of its own failings, and not because of any impropriety by MTN, which is strongly denied,” it said.
Although MTN professed its innocence throughout proceedings, it launched an independent, year-long investigation into the allegations. The Hoffmann Committee, led by retired British judge Lord Leonard Hoffmann, cleared MTN of wrongdoing and labelled Turkcell’s accusations a “fabric of lies, distortions and inventions”. – © 2013 NewsCentral Media