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MTN asks court to reject Turkcell claims
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 00:00
Written by Bonnie Tubbs
In what has been an ongoing saga of allegations and denial, MTN has appealed to a US court to dismiss the $4.2 billion claim filed against it by Turkish cellphone operator Turkcell.
The motion to dismiss Turkcell’s case, which is steeped in allegations of corruption on the part of MTN, in its acquisition of the second GSM licence in Iran in 2005, was filed recently. MTN holds a 49% stake in Iran’s second cellphone operator, Irancell.
Turkcell has accused MTN of bribing both South African and Iranian officials, as well as soliciting the provision of weapons by SA to Iran, to acquire the permit. But MTN has repeatedly denied the claims, calling them “scurrilous and untrue” and the utterings of an “aggrieved competitor”.
According to MTN, the Istanbul-based operator’s case, lodged with the Washington Federal Court, in March, is the latest of four legal claims launched by Turkcell, “[two of these] decided so far both being unsuccessful”.
In its motion, MTN laid out its motivation for the dismissal of Turkcell’s claim based on it being what it calls a “legally insufficient restatement of a case that Turkcell has already tried and lost”. MTN says there is “no proper basis" for the claim to be taken up, for three reasons. Firstly, says MTN, the US court does not have jurisdiction over the subject matter of Turkcell’s claim. “Turkcell has not alleged a violation of the law of nations as required under US law for the sort of claim Turkcell is seeking to bring in the US.
“Secondly, because Turkcell’s arbitration against its former Iranian joint venture partner was recently dismissed by a Paris-based arbitral tribunal, Turkcell’s US claim should be dismissed as already having been decided against Turkcell. The award precludes the claim now brought by Turkcell against MTN in the US courts for the alleged loss of the licence.”
Finally, MTN says the US court lacks personal jurisdiction over MTN and its subsidiary, MTN International (Mauritius) Ltd (MTN International), which is also named in the US action. “MTN and MTN International both lack sufficient contact with the US to be subject to the jurisdiction of the US court.”
Turkcell is expected to respond to MTN’s dismissal motion by 1 August; MTN should then respond by 15 August. A court decision is expected later this year.
MTN says it is confident its motion will be accepted and the claim dismissed.
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