South Africa’s MTN Group has moved to have the country’s High Court dismiss a USD4.2 billion lawsuit which was filed by Turkish operator Turkcell. The case relates to the award of a mobile licence in Iran in 2005; the concession initially went to Turkcell but the Iranian government then cancelled the original award and handed the licence to second-placed bidder MTN. The Turkish firm alleges that MTN employees bribed Iranian officials, while the latter company has always denied these charges.
Turkcell has tried on a number of occasions to bring a case against MTN but has so far failed to make it to court. The South African lawsuit was filed in November 2013, although the court only agreed to hear it in May this year. MTN claims that a South African court has no authority to hear a case which concerns the government of Iran, while it adds that an international arbitration panel has already found that there is no case to answer. An independent probe chaired by the UK judge Lord Hoffman ruled in 2013 that there had been no collusion between MTN Group and the Iranian government. MTN says that if its move to have the latest case dismissed is unsuccessful, it will fight the suit in the South African court.