South African operator MTN Group said that it has set up a special committee to investigate claims by Turkcell that it made bribes to help it win Iran’s second GSM licence in 2005.
While MTN believes that Turkcell’s claim lacks legal merit, it has decided to set up a special committee to probe the allegations and to “recommend appropriate action”.
“The committee will comprise non-executive members of the board, and will be chaired by South African judge Lord Hoffman,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman, MTN Group. “I am confident that he will bring a fiercely independent perspective to the process.”
“Irrespective of the validity of Turkcell’s claims, the very fact that such allegations have been made is serious. MTN has zero tolerance for corrupt and unethical business practices,” Ramaphosa added. “MTN’s response must be measured and authoritative, reflecting the seriousness with which we take any claims of this nature.”
MTN owns a 49% shareholding in Irancell, with the remaining 51% owned and controlled by Iran Electronic Development Company (IEDC).
Turkish mobile operator Turkcell and its subsidiary, East Asian Consortium (EAC), allege that MTN made improper payments to an Iranian and a South African government official, and that it encouraged the South African government to take “a favourable position” toward Iran’s nuclear power programme at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in November 2005, in a bid to win the second GSM licence.
Turkcell also alleges that MTN enlisted South African government support for the provision of military equipment to Iran around 2004 to 2005.
Turkcell has already informed MTN that it believes it has a claim against it based on alleged violations of United States laws and intends to bring the claims before a US court.