MTN, ZTE face fresh terrorism complaint in US

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A new anti-terrorism compliant against MTN Group and others, including ZTE Corporation, has been lodged in New York.

Last night, 53 Americans, including family members of fallen soldiers and severely injured service members, filed the new court papers against MTN and ZTE in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The complaint was filed by Washington, DC-based law firm Sparacino PLLC, which says this follows an extensive investigation, including thousands of hours investigating the terrorist campaign in Iraq and how Hezbollah and similar terrorists funded themselves through illicit corporate deals with companies like MTN and ZTE.

The plaintiffs allege MTN and ZTE knowingly or recklessly supported a terrorist campaign that attacked, killed and wounded thousands of Americans in Iraq.

The complaint further alleges MTN’s and ZTE’s payments and other acts violated US law and circumvented the international sanctions regime designed to deprive terrorists targeting Americans in Iraq of money and key technology.

MTN has previously denied allegations of supporting terrorism, saying: “MTN conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and will defend its position where necessary.”

In March, MTN said the other pending terror case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs cannot establish jurisdiction over MTN in the US, or plead a viable claim under the US Anti-Terrorism Act.

Now, the new complaint alleges MTN and ZTE provided funds, resources, technology and equipment, all useful for the terrorist campaign, to terrorist fronts controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the Qods Force, such as the Ayatollah’s personal foundation, the Bonyad Mostazafan, which served to raise money and obtain weapons for the very terrorists who were murdering Americans in Iraq.

Additionally, ZTE is being accused of being “engaged in an elaborate scheme to acquire US-origin items, send the items to Iran and mask its involvement in those exports”.

Ryan Sparacino, managing partner of Sparacino PLLC, says: “Plaintiffs allege in the complaint that while Americans were risking their lives between 2011 and 2016 to help rebuild Iraq after nearly a decade of terrorist attacks sponsored by Iran, MTN and ZTE substantially assisted the terrorists by engaging in illicit transactions with Iranian fronts that they knew, or recklessly disregarded, the terrorists used to obtain money and weapons to attack Americans in Iraq.

“The complaint alleges that MTN and ZTE aided and abetted terrorism in Iraq by providing the terrorists with critical funding, weapons, and/or weapons components, and in some cases active operational support. As alleged, Hezbollah and its Iraqi terrorist proxies openly proclaimed their intention to kill Americans in Iraq, and the US government publicly opposed transactions with the fronts that funded them.

“Consider MTN, which, as alleged in the complaint, serves as an official joint venture partner with Iranian fronts for terrorists. After investors asked MTN about the risks of being in a joint venture with its Iranian partners, the complaint alleges MTN ‘laughed off questions about the political risk of doing business with Iran’, with MTN’s then-CEO chuckling to investors that ‘[MTN] hadn’t budgeted for bomb shelters or anything like that’. If an American jury is allowed to hear evidence of what MTN has done, MTN will no longer laugh about its choice to do business in Iran.”

In a statement issued to ITWeb this afternoon, MTN Group comments: “On 22 June 2021, a complaint for violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The complaint was filed on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Iraq between 2011 and 2016.

“The complaint alleges that telecom companies indirectly supported the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps by, inter alia, doing business with Iranian companies. The defendants named in the complaint are two different telecoms, one of which is MTN and certain of its affiliates including Irancell (MTN holds 49% equity interest in Irancell).

“MTN is reviewing the details of the complaint and is consulting its advisers but remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and so intends to defend its position where necessary.

“MTN Group is committed to continued compliance with all applicable laws and continues to monitor all developments to ensure it acts in accordance with applicable laws.”

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