Ex SA ambassador to Iran arrested for bribery relating to MTN deal

The long arm of the law has caught up with former SA ambassador to Iran Yusuf Salojee following long-standing allegations of bribery involving MTN.
The long arm of the law has caught up with former SA ambassador to Iran Yusuf Salojee following long-standing allegations of bribery involving MTN.
Image: ISAAC KASAMANI / AFP

Former SA ambassador to Iran‚ Yusuf Saloojee‚ has been charged with foreign bribery‚ the Hawks announced on Friday.

Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi said the 75-year-old had been arrested on Thursday and had since appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

He was granted bail of R4‚000 and his case was set to return to court on April 17.

"Saloojee has been a subject of the Hawks' serious corruption investigation unit following allegations that he allegedly partook in deceitful corrupt activities with Iranian officials after [the] Turkcell Consortium was awarded a lucrative Global System for Mobile (GSM) to operate in Iran for 15 years.

"MTN reportedly came second in the deal which was said to worth approximately US$31.6bn (about R447bn)‚" Mulaudzi said in a statement.

"Saloojee was allegedly involved in facilitating the reversal or cancellation of a cellphone operating licence awarded to a Turkish mobile company Turkcell by the government of Iran which was later handed to MTN SA."

The incident was alleged to have happened over 10 years ago with Saloojee allegedly pocketing R1.4m from the deal.

The funds were not deposited into his personal account but had been put into an account of a firm of attorneys.

"The alleged payment was used towards the purchase of a house in Pretoria‚" said Mulaudzi.

The Hawks conducted a search and seizure of this property last year.

Meanwhile‚ Mulaudzi said they were still conducting the investigation into the phase that deals with the MTN Consortium.

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