MTN ‘to scale down’ in Iran – deputy minister

2012-04-26 10:38

MTN is considering scaling down its operations in Iran to comply with sanctions by the United States, deputy minister of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) Ebrahim Ebrahim has said.

Ebrahim answered a question at the departmental post-budget vote breakfast in Cape Town today.

“MTN has said they are planning no new expansion in Iran as well as scaling down operations. The US has indicated they would be quite happy if they only scale down,” he said.

Ebrahim confirmed the South African government is in discussions with the US about this issue.

This comes as MTN is being taken to court in the US about, among others, allegations of bribery of the South African ambassador to Iran, Yusuf Saloojee, in 2005.

MTN is being sued by Turkcell, the company that lost out when MTN received the mobile operators’ licence in Iran.

But adding to MTN’s problems is that the US is threatening to apply sanctions to all foreign companies trading in Iran and MTN has decided to rather scale down its operations.

“That means you can’t do any financial transactions without the approval of the US. MTN has operations in the US which they had to consider,” Ebrahim told reporters after the breakfast event.

Iran’s insistence on developing nuclear capabilities is making the US nervous and therefore it is imposing sanctions on any country that does business with Iran.

This means the affected country will not be able to do financial transactions in or with the US.

The South African government has expressed its dissatisfaction with the sanctions, but despite many discussions with the US it has been unable to get itself erased from the list of countries threatened with sanctions.

South Africa has continually, to the ire of the US and Britain, refused to take a firm stand against Iran.
Ebrahim refused to comment on the court case, despite the fact that a senior official of Dirco is involved.

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