S.Africa police probe MTN Iran graft allegations

JOHANNESBURG, June 5 (Reuters) - South Africa's elite Hawkspolice unit has opened an investigation into allegations ofcorruption at mobile phone giant MTN relating to itspurchase of a cellular license in Iran, a police spokesman saidon Tuesday.

The police probe follows a $4.2 billion U.S. civil claimfiled in March by Turkish operator Turkcell accusingAfrica's largest mobile firm of bribing Iranian officials withcash and promises of weapons to secure the license, which wasoriginally awarded to Turkcell.

"There are allegations of corruption. That's exactly whatwe're investigating," Hawks spokesman MacIntosh Polela said.

MTN executives were also accused in the U.S. court papers ofpromising to get Pretoria to vote favorably about Tehran'snuclear program at international forums trying to curb Iran'ssuspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

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