South African police arrested a former ambassador to Iran on corruption charges related to the award of a mobile-phone license to MTN Group Ltd. after it was initially given to Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri.
The case has been the subject of legal claims for several years by the Turkish company, which accuses Johannesburg-based MTN of paying bribes to South African and Iranian officials to secure 49% of Irancell Telecommunication Co. Services in 2005, which gave it a license to operate in the country. MTN has always denied the charges.
Yusuf Saloojee, 75, was seized by the Hawks, a South African anti-corruption police unit, over allegations he facilitated the cancellation of the Turkcell license by the Iran government, which was then awarded to MTN. Saloojee, now retired, is accused of earning R1.4 million for his role in the process, which was then used to buy a house in Pretoria, according to a Friday statement by the Hawks.
“MTN has consistently denied that there is any credible evidence that it promised Ambassador Saloojee any money, or that Ambassador Saloojee accepted money from MTN,” the carrier said in an emailed response to questions.
“The allegations against MTN and Ambassador Saloojee appear to be based on the evidence of a single witness, Mr Chris Kilowan, a disgruntled former employee of MTN.”