The Hawks have raided the offices of MTN and its law firm Webber Wentzel as part of an investigation related to the dispute between MTN and Turkcell.
Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told Fin24 the raids happened on Friday, and that documents and equipment were seized at MTN and Webber Wentzel’s offices.
Mulaudzi said the Hawks’ serious corruption investigation and the priority crime and specialised investigation units conducted the search and seizure operation on allegations of foreign bribery.
“The purpose was to obtain documentation relating to the deal and further seize equipment linked to the matter. Investigations are still continuing,” said Mulaudzi.
Webber Wentzel said in a statement that as a law firm, it is professionally prevented from providing any third party with information related to its clients’ matters.
“We are reviewing the lawfulness of the warrant and its execution by the Hawks on various grounds, including legal privilege,” said Webber Wentzel.
“We ensured that the documents and information taken were sealed and will be kept by an independent third party, nominated by us, pending the outcome of an application to the high court.”
“We will ensure that our client’s rights are protected and that legal privilege, which is a key principle to our profession, is upheld.”
MTN said it was cooperating with the Hawks’ investigation, adding that it continues to defend itself in the long-running litigation where Turkcell is claiming damages against MTN.
The dispute is a result of MTN having acquired a 49% interest in Irancell, which was awarded the second GSM Licence in Iran in November 2005.
MTN said Turkcell’s claim is opportunistic, an abuse of the process of the court, baseless, and without merit.
When the allegations made by Turkcell were first raised, MTN appointed an Independent Special Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Leonard Hoffmann to investigate the allegations.
“Lord Hoffmann found that Turkcell’s allegations, which rested entirely upon the evidence of Christian Kilowan, were all a fabric of lies, distortions, and inventions,” said MTN.
Lord Hoffmann added that there was no conspiracy between MTN and Iranian officials to remove Turkcell from the licence process in Iran.
The resultant case in South Africa is the fifth time that Turkcell has attempted to pursue legal proceedings in respect of substantially the same issues.
Turkcell’s four previous attempts, including proceedings before reputable international arbitration panels, failed.
“The ongoing attempt to re-litigate complaints that Turkcell have repeatedly litigated without success are contrary to the interests of justice,” said MTN.