MTN moves to have Turkcell claims dismissed

MTN Group has announced that it has filed a motion to have dismissed the case filed against it by Turkcell in a U.S. court.

On March 28, the Turkish-based telecoms firm filed a complaint in U.S. District Court of Columbia, Washington DC, against MTN Group, demanding $4.2 billion in damages over the award of the cellular licence in Iran in 2004.

TurkCell claimed that MTN used political and monetary lures to enhance its relationships and leverage its position within Iran. “MTN undertook to eliminate TurkCell and take over [the license for itself], by bribing the Iranian government with promises of nuclear votes, defense equipment, and outright cash payments,” a portion of the complaint read.

In its motion to dismiss‚ MTN contends that Turkcell’s US claim is a legally insufficient restatement of a case that Turkcell has already tried and lost.

MTN’s motion seeks the dismissal of Turkcell’s US claim on the grounds that there is no proper basis for such a claim to be brought for three principal reasons, according to MTN:

  • First‚ the US court does not have jurisdiction over the subject matter of Turkcells claim‚ because Turkcell has not alleged a violation of the law of nations as required under US law for the sort of claim Turkcell is seeking to bring in the US;
  • Secondly‚ because Turkcell’s arbitration against its former Iranian joint venture partner was recently dismissed by a Paris-based arbitral tribunal‚ Turkcell’s US claim should be dismissed as already having been decided against Turkcell. The award precludes the claim now brought by Turkcell against MTN in the US courts for the alleged loss of the licence;
  • Thirdly‚ the US court lacks personal jurisdiction over MTN and its subsidiary‚ MTN International (Mauritius) Ltd (MTN International)‚ which is also named in the US action.

MTN added that it and MTN International both lack sufficient contact with the United States to be subject to the jurisdiction of the US court.

Turkcell must respond to MTN’s motion to dismiss by 1 August 2012, and MTN said it will reply to the Turkcell response by 15 August 2012.

The court’s decision is expected later this year.

“As previously stated, and for the reasons set out in the motion to dismiss‚ MTN believes that there is no legal merit to Turkcell’s US claim and no basis for such a claim to be brought in the US court‚ and MTN therefore remains confident that the claim will be dismissed‚” MTN said.

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MTN moves to have Turkcell claims dismissed