MTN could be forced to pay a group of US citizens who accuse the company of sponsoring terrorist attacks in Iran and Afghanistan.
City Press reports that MTN and its accusers have agreed on the timelines to be considered regarding the case’s hearing.
MTN and several other international telecoms companies are alleged to have — knowingly or unknowingly — aided terrorist attacks in Iran and Afghanistan between 2011 and 2016.
Their accusers were directly affected by the attacks.
MTN has agreed to a timeline within which it must provide the plaintiffs’ legal representation with information for litigation.
Both parties have agreed that initial disclosures will be conducted on 29 February next year and thereafter, initial discovery requests on 15 March 2024.
The telecoms giant said well-renowned international law firms represent it.
“MTN Group is one of the world’s 10 largest Africa-based multinational corporations, and it is represented in this case by two extremely large, capable and well-regarded international law firms,” it said.
According to the lawsuit, filed on 22 June 2021, thousands of American citizens were injured or killed in the attacks between 2011 and 2016.
More than 50 Americans allege that MTN and Chinese technology company ZTE did business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) despite knowing the transactions would help finance, arm, and support its terror campaign.
They are also accused of supporting the Taliban’s campaign against US citizens in Afghanistan.
The plaintiffs claim that MTN and its subsidiary, MTN Dubai, contravened the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
MTN denied the allegations and said it would defend its position.
“MTN is reviewing the details of the complaint and is consulting its advisers,” it said.
“It conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and so intends to defend its position where necessary.”
Daily Investor reported that MTN announced it would exit Afghanistan by the end of the year and said it is also considering pulling out of three West African markets.
“The process to exit Afghanistan is in the regulatory approval stages and remains on track to be finalised by year-end,” MTN said in a trading update for the third quarter ended 30 September 2023.
The group received a binding offer for the sale of MTN Afghanistan for about $25 million in June 2022.
Exiting Afghanistan is part of MTN’s five-year plan to slim down the business, which includes withdrawing from the Middle East.
Once its exit from Afghanistan is complete, Iran will be the company’s only remaining business in the region.
MTN also said it is continuing regarding the potential exit of three of its smaller operations in West Africa, including MTN Guinea-Bissau, MTN Guinea-Conakry, and MTN Liberia.