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MTN-Turkcell case delayed in US court

15 Oct 2012

A federal court in the United States has postponed a decision in a USD4.2 billion legal battle between Turkcell of Turkey and MTN of South Africa over the latter’s wireless operation in Iran, pending the outcome of a separate lawsuit in the US Supreme Court. Federal judges are awaiting the outcome of a court case between Kiobel and the Royal Dutch Shell oil company which alleges breaches of the Alien Tort Statute, a human rights law which Turkcell is using as the basis for its own lawsuit, Reuters reports.

Turkcell had previously been awarded the mobile concession in Iran but was then replaced by the South African firm, which went on to launch as Irancell. It is accusing MTN officials of using bribery to win backing in Iran and getting South African government officials to influence arms deals and to vote in favour of Iran’s nuclear programme at the United Nations. MTN has called for the case to be dismissed, saying US courts have no legal right to hear the lawsuit, but Turkcell claims the Supreme Court has jurisdiction because the case has international ramifications. MTN Irancell claimed almost 45% of Iran’s mobile market with 38.3 million subscribers as of end-June 2012, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database.

Iran, MTN Group, MTN Irancell, Turkcell

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