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MTN former CEO denies bribes to Iran, South Africa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The former chief executive of MTN Group denied on Sunday that he authorized bribes to Iranian and South African government officials in return for a cellular license in Iran.

"I can state quite categorically that during my tenure as group CEO of MTN no bribes were authorized or paid by the MTN Group to any South African or Iranian government officials to secure the mobile license in Iran," Phuthuma Nhleko said in a statement.

Turkish mobile operator Turkcell this week filed a $4.2 billion lawsuit against MTN, accusing it of using bribery and other corrupt acts to win its license in Iran in 2004.

Nhleko, who was then the CEO of MTN, is named in the suit, as well as its current CEO, who was then the chief operating officer.

(Reporting by David Dolan, editing by Ed Stoddard)

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