MTN Group slammed a $4.2 billion lawsuit brought by Turkcell relating to the award of an Iranian licence more than ten years ago as “without merit”, as its defence demanded the case be thrown out.
In a statement first reported by Reuters, MTN called the legal action, which is set to be heard at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, an “abuse of the process of court” and “baseless”.
The legal action was filed in 2013. At the time, Turkcell demanded a $4.2 billion payout from the South Africa-based group over alleged bribery and corruption dating back to when it was trying to secure a licence in Iran between 2004 and 2005.
Turkcell said it had been awarded a licence to operate in the country during 2004 through international tender, but – the company maintains – was prevented from taking up the licence by MTN’s illegal actions. MTN was subsequently awarded the first GSM licence in the country in 2005.
Iran is now one of MTN’s largest markets with an estimated 49 million connections, making it the second largest operator in the country.
The case is Turkcell’s second attempt to get MTN in the dock after a US court said it could not judge the suit in 2012. After four years of wrangling in South Africa, the claims are now set to be finally heard.
In a statement made in June, Turkcell said it had a “strong claim” for “compensation of damages resulting from unlawful acts of MTN during the tender process for Iran’s first private GSM licence.”
MTN repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and yesterday (30 October) reportedly filed a plea to have the case dismissed.