MTN/Turkcell talks break down amid extortion claims

SA mobile operator, MTN (MTN), has strongly condemned Turkcell’s attempt to use the threat of a US legal claim to extort money from MTN.

The company also criticised Turkcell’s refusal to cooperate with the independent investigation that MTN has set up, headed by the eminent British supreme court judge, Lord Hoffmann.

Turkcell had threatened MTN with litigation in the United States, alleging claims of corruption in relation to MTN’s bid to participate in the second mobile phone network in Iran.  In 2005, a consortium that included MTN was awarded the licence.

MTN have appointed Lord Hoffmann to lead an independent investigation of the allegations.  Although MTN believes there is no legal merit to Turkcell’s claims, and no basis for a US court to consider them, it had nonetheless sought to obtain Turkcell’s co-operation with the independent investigation.

MTN says that talks with Turkcell have broken down as a result of its extortionate demands for damages, and its threat to start a frivolous lawsuit in the US.

MTN added that it is committed to resolving the issue through Lord Hoffmann’s inquiry.

“Turkcell’s threat to abuse the U.S. legal system to pressure MTN will not succeed,” said an MTN spokesman.  “MTN wants Turkcell’s co-operation with the independent investigation.”

Turkcell’s accusations involve conduct alleged to have taken place in South Africa and Iran, and have no connection to the United States.  The US Supreme Court is widely expected to restrict such claims in a case that was argued last week.

Lord Hoffmann, who was born in South Africa, is widely regarded as the pre-eminent legal figure in the United Kingdom over the last 20 years.

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MTN/Turkcell talks break down amid extortion claims