File Image: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – MTN filed a defence plea in the long-running litigation where Turkcell claims damages against MTN as a result of MTN having acquired a 49% interest in Irancell Communication Services Company ("Irancell"), which was awarded the second GSM License in Iran in November 2005.

 MTN remains of the view that:

  • Turkcell's claim is opportunistic, an abuse of the process of Court, baseless and without merit 
  • Turkcell was the author of its own misfortune in failing to obtain the licence in Iran; 
  • When it became clear that Turkcell was unwilling or unable to comply with the new legislative requirement, its shareholding in the licence be not greater than 49%, the Iranian authorities offered the opportunity to MTN, which it accepted
  • Turkcell regretted their decision and has ever since engaged in four different sets of legal proceedings, all of which have been lost;
  • Turkcell's implausible allegations rest heavily on a disgruntled former MTN employee who has been described as a fantasist and a conspiracy theorist and whose allegations have been dismissed by an independent investigation as being a fabric of lies, distortions and inventions.

When the allegations made by Turkcell were first raised, MTN says that it appointed an Independent Special Committee under the Chairmanship of the eminent international jurist, Lord Leonard Hoffmann, to investigate the allegations. 

According to MTN, when furnishing this comprehensive report into his findings, Lord Hoffmann made the point that his Committee had received full cooperation from the company and had been given unrestricted access to all individuals, information, documents and facilities' which his Committee requested.

MTN said that he also observed that there had 'not been the slightest attempt by the company or its management to influence the committee in its deliberations or Report.

According to Hoffmann, he found that Turkcell's allegations, which rested entirely upon the evidence of Christian Kilowan, were all 'a fabric of lies, distortions and inventions'; and that Mr Kilowan was shown to be 'a fantasist and a conspiracy theorist'.

Lord Hoffmann was also very clear in finding that he was entirely satisfied that there was no conspiracy between MTN and Iranian officials to remove Turkcell from the licence process in Iran.

He also found that there were no promises made to procure the South African government to supply defence equipment to Iran or to support Iran's nuclear policy, nor that MTN had advanced sham loans to its Iranian partners, nor indeed that any promises of payment to Iranian or South African officials were made or authorised by Mr Nhleko or Ms Charnley.

In the period since Lord Hoffmann made his Report, we have found nothing that would change his findings. 

Earlier this year, Dr Mahmoud Vaezi, the Minister in Iran's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, also rejected Turkcell's allegations in an exclusive interview with Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency. 

Minister Vaezi was reported to have said that all relevant documents have been looked at, with nothing to establish Turkcell's claims.

The case in South Africa is the fifth time that Turkcell has attempted to pursue legal proceedings in respect of substantially the same issues. MTN say that they consider it is most unjust to burden MTN with a fifth round of litigation of substantially the same matters.

Turkcell's four previous attempts, including proceedings before reputable international arbitration panels, failed. The ongoing attempt to re-litigate complaints that Turkcell have repeatedly litigated without success are contrary to the interests of justice. 

 To the extent that Turkcell may contend that any new issues have been raised in their summons, these issues were considered and disposed of in the Hoffmann Report.