In a surprising development, a lawsuit has been instituted in the United States of America against MTN Group Limited by families of American soldiers who are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Why the lawsuit? The families have accused the South African telecom company (and the parent company of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc) of contravening America’s anti-terrorism law. In specific terms, the company went the extra miles by allegedly paying bribes to top Taliban officials to stop them from bombing the telco’s facilities in war-torn Afghanistan.
Court documents seen by Bloomberg also disclosed that MTN was also accused of providing material support to the terrorists when the company allegedly deactivated cell phone towers at the behest of the Taliban.
The company, which apparently operates in war-torn Afghanistan, reportedly resorted to collaborating with the Taliban in order to avoid incurring costly security fees for its transmission masts.
It should be noted that for many years, US soldiers have been battling members of the terrorist Taliban set who have been instrumental in orchestrating the chaos in the landlocked Asian country. Therefore, paying any form of bribe to the insurgent group for the purpose of protection is being viewed as an act against US terrorism laws.
Up to 150 families are collectively suing the company in a class action. These are families of US soldiers and civilians who were either killed or wounded due to the war in the country. Five other entities were indicted in the suit.
In the meantime, MTN has reacted to the lawsuit, stating on Monday that it was reviewing the details of the suit. However, the company stressed that it “conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories” and will defend itself if necessary.
It is worth mentioning that MTN Group Limited has always claimed to be compliant anytime it gets fingered in any regulatory or process abuse. On all the different occasions the company has had run-ins with Nigerian regulators, it has always maintained its innocence even when there is evidence.
The latest issue the company is facing in Nigeria has to do with a $2 billion Nigerian authorities said it owes in back taxes. The Office of Nigeria’s Attorney General made the claim in 2018 and the case lingered throughout 2019 without a final judgement. This is because the company has continued to contest the claim. As Nairametrics reported, a January 2020 date has now been fixed to hear the case again by a Federal Judge.