Suspension of SA’s ambassador to Iran temporarily lifted, MTN investigation continues

South Africa’s former ambassador, Yusuf Saloojee, to Iran’s three-month suspension has been lifted and he is back at his job in Muscat, Oman, with the outcome of an investigation into his involvement in the alleged MTN-Iran bribery scandal is pending.

The investigation of the matter is still underway and being conducted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). It relates to accusations of bribery against Saloojee.

The department’s spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, indicated they were unclear as to how long the investigation would take.

Monyela said: “Ambassador Saloojee is believed to have claimed that his suspension has been lifted and that his name has been cleared.” He further added that although the ambassador’s suspension has been lifted he is still under investigation.

Further to this, DIRCO also confirmed that suspended ambassador Saloojee had been reinstated but it further added in the issued statement that this was “temporary, pending the finalisation and outcomes of the investigation”.

DIRCO said in the statement: “The department recalled Ambassador Saloojee and put him on a three-month suspension beginning 1 July to allow for an internal investigation into allegations made against him by a former employee of a South African mobile phone company operating in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Saloojee came under scrutiny in July 2012, after it was alleged that he accepted US$200,000 from South African mobile services provider MTN in exchange for assisting the company in its acquisition of a GSM licence, in Iran, in 2005.

This investigation and allegation is part of a bigger lawsuit valued at approximately US$4.2 billion, filed by rival bidding operator, Istanbul-based Turkcell.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, DIRCO Minister, said at the time of the allegations being made known that DIRCO would embark on an investigation into the allegations by Turkcell, backed by former MTN executive Chris Kilowan, against Saloojee.

Posted in: Telecoms

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