Hawks swoop in on MTN

Elite crime-fighting unit the Hawks are set to investigate mobile operators, MTN, on allegations of corruption relating to its license in Iran.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela told BusinessTech: “We have received information regarding allegations of corruption at MTN. We conducted an enquiry phase, to test these allegations, and have decided to conduct an investigation.”

Polela said that the Hawks have not been in touch with MTN. “We are not obliged to discuss our case with the firm we are investigating,” he said.

Turkish mobile operator Turkcell has launched a $4.2 billion lawsuit in a US court accusing MTN of bribing its way to the Iranian licence and alleging human rights abuses. MTN denies the charges.

MTN owns 49% of Irancell, the group that was awarded the 2nd Iranian GSM licence.

On the weekend, The City Press newspaper reported that a former MTN executive, Chris Kilowan, admitted to bribing South Africa’s former ambassador to Iran “to thank him for assisting the mobile giant”.

The paper said it had a transcript of Kilowan’s evidence before a US court a month ago. In this transcript “he implicates himself and top MTN executives in underhanded dealings to acquire a multibillion-dollar mobile licence in the pariah state”.

MTN strongly denied any suggestion that MTN, or its representatives, intimidated Kilowan. The group said that Kilowan’s testimony showed that he was not a reliable witness, but rather a disgruntled former employee, who had admitted that he had been paid by Turkcell for his role in the claims against MTN. “In his recent deposition, his evidence was discredited in a number of major respects,” the group said.

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Hawks swoop in on MTN