MTN-linked ambassador suspended

South Africa’s foreign ministry has suspended a former ambassador to Tehran after allegations he took a $200 000 bribe to help MTN Group win a mobile licence in Iran, a spokesman said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Department of international relations and co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela told Talk Radio 702 that Yusuf Saloojee, currently ambassador to Oman, had been suspended until investigations into his links to the MTN deal are concluded.

South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said this week in a response to written parliamentary questions that her department had started an investigation into the allegations against Saloojee.

Johannesburg-based MTN is being sued by Turkish rival Turkcell for $4.2 billion. The Turkish company alleges MTN bribed Saloojee and used other underhanded methods to win a licence over Turkcell in 2005.

MTN has denied the charges and called Turkcell’s demands “extortionate”.

An elite South African police unit also launched an investigation but it has not given details of its investigation.

Saloojee has denied the allegations in statements published by the South African media.

More on the MTN/Turkcell saga

SA Ambassador to be probed over MTN

MTN moves to have Turkcell claims dismissed

How MTN allegedly bribed its way into Iran

MTN CEO denies “cover up”

Nhleko wades back into Irancell case

Hawks swoop in on MTN

MTN denies intimidating former employee

MTN, The Fish, and Project Snooker

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MTN-linked ambassador suspended