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S.African Police Arrest Ex-Ambassador In MTN Iranian license Investigation

South Africa - Iran - Logo of MTN telecom group.
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 15 (Reuters) -

Pretoria's former ambassador to Iran, Yusuf Saloojee, was arrested in South Africa on Thursday over allegations of corruption related to telecoms giant MTN's cell phone operating license in the Islamic Republic, police said on Friday.

MTN shares fell on the news. Saloojee allegedly received 1.4 million rand ($100,000) to help facilitate the reversal or cancellation of a license awarded to Turkish mobile operator Turkcell, a police statement said.

The 15-year license, worth about $31.6 billion, was subsequently handed to MTN, which the police said had reportedly come in second initially.

MTN did not immediately provide a comment. Reuters could not immediately contact Saloojee or his representative.

The company's shares were down 2.35 percent at 1357 GMT.

Last June, South African police seized documents from MTN offices after Turkcell launched a $4.2 billion lawsuit over the disputed Iranian license which alleged that MTN used bribery and wrongful influence to win it.

The case is one of a number of legal difficulties that has plagued MTN in recent years, alongside costly disputes in Nigeria over unregistered sim cards, taxes and repatriated dividends.

Saloojee, who is now retired, appeared in a Johannesburg court on Thursday, the Hawks police unit said, and has been granted bail set at 4,000 rand. The case was postponed until April 17.

The part of the investigation dealing with MTN was not yet finalized, the statement added.

In Uganda, police said on Friday that the chief executive of MTN Uganda had been deported over national security concerns.