Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MTN Apologises to Ivory Coast's President

The MTN Group, one of Africa’s largest telecoms companies, has apologised to the President of Ivory Coast Mr Laurent Gbagbo after the Chief Executive Officer of the company’s subsidiary in that country, Mr Aimable Mpore, humiliated him.

Mr Mpore was subsequently expelled by the government of Ivory Coast. According to a Bloomberg news report, it was claimed that Mr Mpore had made a financial donation of $132,000 to a former secretary in President Gbagbo’s office to help build a clinic and buy an ambulance.

“The authorities are blaming Mr Mpore, a Rwandan-Canadian national, for failing to cross-check with the presidency before making the donation,” the report said.

The Secretary, Ms Bléhon Emilienne was subsequently arrested on charges of alleged fraud and bribery - although it may prove difficult to pursue a trial if Mr Mpore is barred from returning to the country.

In a statement released by MTN South Africa, the company offered an “apology to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ivory Coast, the Minister of Interior and other affected officials who may have been the victims of this identify fraud incident.”

According to MTN, the incident was a case of an identity fraud against MTN Ivory Coast in which the culprit falsely used the names of high ranking government officials and not a deliberate attempt by Mr Mpore or MTN to bring shame to Mr Gbagbo and his government.

Mr Mpore worked in Uganda for years as the boss of MTN Uganda’s top rival, Uganda Telecom, before he quit and left the country. Under him, UTL staggered and was reinvigorated only when the Libyan investors came in.

“MTN is committed to playing a supportive role in the economic development of Ivory Coast, as demonstrated by its huge investments which are contributing to the rapid development of the telecommunications sector in the country,” said MTN Corporate Affairs Group Executive January Nozipho.

She also expressed MTN Group’s confidence in Mr Mpore, saying he was the victim - and not an accomplice - in the identify fraud incident.

“The CEO has always acted in good faith while carrying out his duties. It was never his intention - or that of MTN CI - to discredit the person or the position of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ivory Coast,” she said. 

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