March 22, 2018 / 2:44 PM / 7 months ago

Local directors of Iraq's Korek reject accusations from foreign shareholders

DUBAI, March 22 (Reuters) - Three local directors of Iraqi mobile telecoms operator Korek have rejected accusations from the firm’s foreign shareholders that they mismanaged and squandered tens of millions of dollars.

Iraq Telecom, the name of the joint venture of Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility and France’s Orange, this month filed a claim against the trio in the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts.

In 2011, Agility and Orange - formerly France Telecom - acquired a 44 percent stake in Korek Telecom Co. through a vehicle that also counts prominent Iraqi Kurdish businessman Sirwan Barzani and other locals among its shareholders.

In response to the claim, Korek International Management, the company through which Barzani and other local shareholders hold a stake in Korek’s holding company, said in an email to Reuters that Iraq Telecom and its representatives on the board of directors of Korek had been engaged in a “systematic campaign against Korek and its ultimate majority shareholder to destroy value and otherwise cause damage to the company.”

It said an arbitration filed last year by Agility at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes to settle a dispute with Iraq’s government had harmed Korek’s relations with Baghdad.

Agility said Barzani’s response through his company demonstrated that he was both aware of the serious charges against him and unable to credibly refute them.

“Korek urgently needs a court appointee to investigate the company’s management, self-dealing and lack of transparency,” Agility said in an email to Reuters. “Agility will hold any wrongdoers to account and there will be no court from which they can hide.” (Reporting by Tom Arnold Editing by Mark Potter)

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