AUS district court refuses MTN’s move to dismiss ATA charges

15 November 2023

AUS district court has refused, in part, MTN Group's move to dismiss Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) charges filed against the company.

The anti-terrorism complaint against MTN Group, and others, has been playing out in a New York court over the last few years. MTN has denied allegations of supporting terrorism, based on its operations in Afghanistan, which began in 2006, being said to support the Taliban’s campaign against US citizens in that country. MTN has since had one terror case dismissed, because the plaintiffs could not establish jurisdiction over MTN in the US.

Nonetheless, MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita said that a judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed, in part, a motion by Africa's largest telco to dismiss the ATA allegations against the business in ‘Zobay vs MTN’ matter.

“This means that the case will proceed to the next phases, which include discovery (the exchange of information in the parties’ possession), summary judgment motions (requests that the court grant judgment on the law, without a trial, because there are no factual disputes for a jury to resolve), and, if necessary, a trial,” said Mupita. “The court, however, did uphold the motion to dismiss the case against MTN Dubai on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not attribute any specific conduct to MTN Dubai. Accordingly, MTN Dubai is no longer a party to the proceedings. The court’s dismissal order does not mean that MTN has lost the case, nor does it suggest that MTN violated the law or otherwise engaged in wrongdoing.”

Under US law and procedures, MTN (and the other defendants in the case) could not challenge the factual allegations made against the company at the motion-to-dismiss phase.

“In the next phases of the litigation, MTN will have an opportunity to produce and solicit evidence to disprove plaintiffs’ allegations. In terms of next potential steps, after discovery concludes, the parties will have an opportunity to submit summary judgment motions (requests that the court award judgment as a matter of law, based on the evidence produced during discovery),” said Mupita.