Turkcell sues MTN in S.Africa for Iran damages

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Turkcell filed a 4.2 billion US dollar lawsuit in Washington last year alleging the Johannesburg-based mobile phone giant used bribery to win a mobile license 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 opened a lawsuit against [DATA MTN:MTN Ltd.] 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.

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 spokesman declined immediate comment.