Envoy recalled over alleged MTN bribe
Johannesburg - The government has confirmed that SA’s ambassador to Iran, Yusuf Saloojee, has been suspended and recalled to SA while he is being investigated for allegedly taking bribes from cellphone company MTN to help it win an operating licence in Iran.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told Parliament in July that Saloojee was being investigated on the charges that arose from allegations by the Turkish cellphone company Turkcell in a US court.
This week Nkoana-Mashabane said Saloojee had been recalled for an internal investigation by her department into the allegations against him.
Nyameko Goso, the department’s chief director: internal audit, had been appointed to conduct the investigation.
Nkoana-Mashabane was responding in writing to questions from DA MPs Ian Davidson, the spokesman on her department, and David Maynier, the party’s spokesman on defence.
She also repeated a previous statement that another ambassador had not been suspended and wasn’t being investigated for accepting a bribe.
Though this other ambassador was not named in the parliamentary questions, Maynier had identified him as Abdul Minty, SA’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, who was SA’s representative on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna in 2006.
Turkcell, which had been awarded an operating licence in Iran before it was switched to MTN, has claimed in the US court that Minty opposed sanctions against Iran at the IAEA in 2006 because MTN had bribed the SA government to do so.
Nkoana-Mashabane said earlier that Minty had been instructed by the SA government to oppose sanctions against Iran and that this instruction had nothing to do with MTN.
She repeated these assertions this week in her reply to questions from the DA MPs.