Turkcell’s MTN lawsuit put on hold

MTN Group said on 12 October that it has noted a United States federal court ruling to put on hold a lawsuit by Turkcell against MTN alleging bribery, pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling whether the case can be heard in a US court.

Turkcell alleges, principally, that MTN violated the US Alien Tort Statute by engaging in the bribery of an Iranian and a South African government official in connection with MTN’s participation in the Irancell consortium.

On 28 March 2012, Turkcell Iletisim AS and EAC (Turkcell) filed a legal action against MTN Group and MTN International (Mauritius) Limited (MTNI) in the United States district court in Washington, DC.

It also alleges that MTN encouraged the South African government to take a favourable position toward Iran’s civil nuclear power development programme at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in November 2005, and that MTN enlisted South African government support for the provision of military equipment to Iran.

Turkcell seeks damages in the amount of $4.2 billion. On 2 July 2012, MTN moved to dismiss the case on the basis that it lacks legal merit.

MTN had asked Judge Walton of the Washington district court to either dismiss the Turkcell case outright, or stay it until after the Supreme Court renders its decision on what has become known as the Kiobel case.

Using the Kiobel case, the judge will then decide whether Turkcell’s case against MTN can be heard in a US court when neither is a US company, and the alleged conduct happened on foreign territory. Legal experts predict the Supreme Court will use the Kiobel case to restrict such cases.

“MTN continues to believe that there is no legal merit to Turkcell’s claim and no basis for such claim to be brought before a US court. MTN expects the Turkcell claim to be disposed of after the Supreme Court issues its decision in the Kiobel case. That is expected to happen by the end of June 2013,” MTN said in a press statement.

MTN said that it will continue to oppose the claim.

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Turkcell’s MTN lawsuit put on hold