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No risk too high for South Africa

March 30, 2012

Here’s more on the South African love affair with Iran.  This time, Avi Jorisch takes on South Africa’s telecommunications powerhouse, MTN, for their deep presence in Iran and their complicity in quashing Iranian dissidents.

Even leaving aside the problem that their business ties could help prop up a regime driven by nuclear ambitions, it is a very foolish decision on MTN’s part.  FATF, the international financial watchdog, has warned that money invested in Iran has an unacceptably high risk of being laundered toward illegal activities.  Why would a responsible business want to take such a risk?

MTN has no business aiding terror in Iran
Allegations that SA cellphone company helps regime persecute opposition

Sunday Times – South Africa
March 25, 2012

MTN has a corporate responsibility to cease doing business with Iran and colluding with a state sponsor of terror that uses its technology to track, silence and kill its people. The South African government should take immediate action to prevent this abuse of the telecommunications industry.

MTN’s business ties to Iran are significant and represent approximately a fifth of the company’s revenue. It has a 49% stake in Iran’s second-largest cellphone operator, MTN-Irancell, which has cornered almost half of the Iranian cellphone market. The remaining 51% is owned by the Iran Electronic Development Company (IEDC), a company affiliated with the Iranian government. Its principal shareholder, Iran Electric Industries, has been blacklisted by both the US Treasury and the European Union for its role in proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

On January 27 an MTN spokesman said that while the company was monitoring events in Iran, it was conducting “business as usual” in the country. Minister of Communications Dina Pule further emphasized that there would be no pressure on MTN to pull out of Iran.

MTN has played a critical role in helping the Iranian regime to hunt down its opposition. In 2009, when Iranians took to the streets to protest President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election, MTN-Irancell, along with Iran’s other cellphone carriers, reportedly followed government instructions to suspend text messaging and block internet phone services such as Skype, which were used extensively by the opposition movement…

Read it all here.

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