File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

In the midst of a growing bribery firestorm over its Iranian business unit‚ former MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko said on Wednesday that no bribes were approved or paid during his tenure.

Nhleko served as group CEO and president of the MTN Group of companies for close to 10 years‚ until March 2011‚ a time in which the company regularly featured as one of the top companies in the country and undertook major expansion initiatives‚ especially in Africa.

“I am aware of recent media speculation regarding the allegations made by Turkcell against MTN. I repeat that‚ during my tenure as CEO of MTN‚ no bribes were approved or paid with my consent or the consent of the MTN Group. Further‚ neither the MTN Group nor I was in a position to influence or fetter the decisions and foreign policy of the South African government‚ and we did not do so‚” Nhleko said on Wednesday.

“The allegations now made by Turkcell are being made inexplicably for the first time in almost seven years after the licence was issued in Iran.”

He said the allegations were “entirely without substance and have been made recklessly and irresponsibly by an aggrieved competitor”.

Turkcell was attempting to pursue its claims in a US court‚ he said‚ despite the fact that the issue was one between a Turkish company and a South African company regarding a licence in Iran.

“There is no connection whatsoever with the US. The question of jurisdiction will ultimately be decided by a US court. However‚ in the interim‚ Turkcell continues to use the media to publish its farfetched allegations‚ which are based on the contradictory and inconsistent evidence given‚ on deposition‚ in the US‚ by a disgruntled former MTN employee‚” said Nhleko.

One allegation was that the MTN Group was pervaded by a culture of “extensive corruption”. Nhleko called this “scurrilous and untrue”. He said he was willing to assist MTN and South African law enforcement agencies in rebutting the claims and allegations made by Turkcell. - I-Net Bridge