Department to probe MTN bribe allegation
The former ambassador to Iran has again come under fire for allegedly receiving a staggering $200000 (R1.63-million) bribe to help secure an operating licence for MTN in that country.
In written replies to parliamentary questions yesterday, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that former ambassador Yusuf Saloojee was being investigated.
"The department has instituted an investigation into the allegations that a certain ambassador [Saloojee] received payment from a certain company [MTN].
"The department did not receive a request from a certain ambassador to allow the ambassador to do remunerative work outside the Public Service," said Nkoana-Mashabane.
She said the former ambassador's financial disclosure form had also been submitted to the Public Service Commission.
It has been alleged that MTN paid $200000 into the account of property attorneys Gildenhuys Lessing Malatji in April 2007. These funds went towards the purchasing of a home for Saloojee.
MTN is facing a lawsuit, reportedly for billions in damages, by Turkcell, an Istanbul-based rival that was also vying for the licence.
DA MP David Maynier welcomed the department's response .
"It is not clear why the department has done an about-turn, but the institution of this investigation is nevertheless a welcome development. It is imperative that the results of the investigation be made public as soon as possible," said Maynier.
MTN, which has previously denied the allegations, was not immediately able to respond to media queries, nor was the Department of International Relations.