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CAPE TOWN - Former South African ambassador to Iran Yusuf Saloojee was arrested this week in connection with a R1.4 million bribe he allegedly received for securing the reversal of a cellphone operating licence in Iran which was later awarded to MTN, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) said on Friday.

In a statement, the DPCI, also known as the Hawks, said the 75-year-old was arrested on Thursday and also appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. 

He was granted R4,000 bail.

Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said Salojee had been under investigation for alleged corrupt activities involving Turkcell Consortium, who originally won the licence, MTN and the Iranian government. 

"MTN reportedly came second in the deal which was said to worth approximately US$31,6 billion," said Mulaudzi.

"Saloojee was allegedly involved in facilitating the reversal or cancellation of a cellphone operating licence awarded to a Turkish mobile company, Turkcell, by the government of Iran which was later handed to MTN South Africa."

It is alleged that R1.4 million was deposited into the account of a firm of attorneys for Salojee's benefit.  

"The alleged payment was used towards the purchase of a house in Pretoria."

The matter was postponed to April 17.

The investigation into MTN's role in the debacle was still underway, said Mulaudzi, adding that a search and seizure operation was conducted in June last year.

African News Agency (ANA)