FORMER ambassador to Iran Yusuf Saloojee will stay on fully paid suspension until an investigation into allegations that he was bribed by MTN are completed.
However, it was not known when investigations into reports that Saloojee was bribed with a payment of $200000 (R1.63-million) would be finalised. The payment was allegedly paid out by telecommunications giant MTN in its successful bid to secure an operating licence in Iran.
"He’s back in the country and has been put on full suspension [from July 1] for the duration of the investigation,” Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesman Clayson Monyela said.
In written replies to parliamentary questions earlier this week, International Relations and Co- operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane admitted "the department has instituted an investigation into the allegations that a certain ambassador [Saloojee] received payment from a certain company [MTN].
"The department did not receive a request from a certain ambassador to allow the ambassador to do remunerative work outside the public service,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.
She said the former ambassador’s financial disclosure form had also been submitted to the Public Service Commission.
It has been alleged that MTN paid $200000 into the account of property attorneys Gildenhuys Lessing Malatji in April 2007. These funds went towards the purchasing of a home for Saloojee. MTN has repeatedly denied all allegations.
However, they are facing a lawsuit by Turkcell, an Istanbul-based rival company which was also vying for the licence. Turkcell is reportedly suing MTN for billions in damages.