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MTN accused of paying bribes to al-Qaida, Taliban

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Africa’s largest mobile operator MTN is being accused of violating US anti-terrorism laws.

In a statement yesterday, the company said it is reviewing allegations that it paid protection money to militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan.

The complaint was filed in a US federal court on Friday on behalf of families of US citizens killed in attacks in Afghanistan.

Five other companies were also named in the filing.

According to BBC, The complaint alleges MTN paid bribes to al-Qaida and the Taliban to avoid having to invest in in expensive security for their transmission towers.

The alleged payments helped finance a Taliban-led insurgency that led to the attacks in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017, the accusations say.

In its statement, MTN says: “On 27 December 2019 a complaint for violation of the anti-terrorism act was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint was filed on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017.

“The complaint alleges that several Western businesses supported the Taliban by, inter alia, making payments to ensure the protection of their infrastructure. The defendants named in the complaint are six different groups one of which is MTN and certain of its subsidiary companies including MTN Afghanistan.

“MTN is reviewing the details of the report 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.”

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