MTN Group faces anti-terrorism violations in U.S. complaint


Families of U.S. soldiers have filed a class-action lawsuit against South Africa’s MTN Group Limited that could spell more trouble for Africa’s largest mobile carrier.

In a complaint filed in December 2019 in the United States District Court in the District of Columbia, plaintiff alleged that the companies violated the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act by paying protection money to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

However, an amended complaint, filed last Friday by Washington-based law firms, alleges MTN’s “conduct targeted the United States” by executing a strategy reliant on dominating markets in unstable countries not allied with Washington.

The complaint claimed that MTN violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by paying protection money of more than $100 million to al-Qaeda and the Taliban so its cellular towers would not be targeted for destruction. MTN deactivated those towers at night, preventing U.S. intelligence operations, according to the suit.

While MTN has denied all allegations, however, the company in April it asked the court to dismiss the original suit because the court lacked jurisdiction over MTN, and on the grounds that the complaint did not allege any conduct violating the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Meanwhile, G4S and other companies in the suit have refused to comment.

The group said on Saturday it was considering filing another motion to counter the fresh allegations.

“We are reviewing the new material in consultation with our legal advisers,” it said in a written response to questions submitted by Reuters.

The company remains “of the view that we conduct our business in a responsible and compliant manner in all our territories,” it said in the statement citing chief executive officer Rob Shuter.