ISTANBUL – Turkish mobile operator Turkcell said on Thursday a $4.2 billion lawsuit against South Africa’s MTN over a disputed Iran licence would be heard in a South African court after years of delays.
Turkcell first sued Johannesburg-based MTN in a U.S. court in 2012, alleging the South African mobile company used bribery and wrongful influence to win a lucrative Iran licence that was originally awarded to Turkcell.
The case was later withdrawn from U.S. courts and filed in South Africa 2013, where it has been caught up in legal wrangling. MTN has rejected the allegations. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
“We are delighted that the case is finally coming to trial in South Africa,” Serhat Demir, a Turkcell vice president, said in a statement.
“Turkcell will be seeking the earliest possible trial date, and looks forward to vindicating its claims before the South African courts.”
Turkcell’s claim was delayed by objections from MTN and Turkcell’s responses to the objections, Turkcell said. On May 5, a South African high court rejected another 30 objections from MTN, clearing the way for the case to go to trial, it said.
In papers filed in November 2013 with the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, Turkcell claimed that MTN “acted wrongfully” and interfered with Turkcell’s relationships with the Iranian government.
MTN previously appointed a retired British judge to lead an external investigation into Turkcell’s allegations. That probe dismissed the accusations as “a fabric of lies, distortions and inventions”.
Shares in MTN fell 2 percent to 115 rand as of 1034 GMT, lagging behind a 0.9 percent decline in its closet rival Vodacom Group.(Reuters)