MTN Denies Involvement in Security Breach, Tax Evasion in Wake of Data Centre Raid

MTN Uganda Chairman, Charles Mbire (2nd L) addressing reporters together with other MTN officials on Monday

MTN Uganda has denied reports alleging that the recent raid carried out on its data centre by agents said to be attached to the Internal Security Organization (ISO) was related to its involvement in breach of national security and tax evasion.

The telecom company which is the biggest in Uganda has dismissed the claims as untrue in its latest statement issued on Monday.

Last week, two employees of Huawei Uganda, a contractor were picked up from MTN headquarters at MTN Towers in Kampala by what MTN say were heavily armed men in civilian clothing. The two Huawei staffers included Moses Keefah Musasizi, a manager data facilities. But the two have since resumed their work.

According to the statement by the telco’s Chairman, Charles Mbire, the armed men claimed to be agents of ISO.

The two Huawei staffers were illegally detained in an ungazetted area and later forced to grant unauthorized physical access to the MTN Data Centre at Mtundwe, says Mbire.

“At the data centre, there were several attempts by intruders to log into MTN Uganda’s servers over the period of two hours,” Charles Mbire said in his statement.

However, the so-called ISO operatives were unsuccessful in their efforts and no data was accessed or compromised.

MTN say they have since reported the case to the Police, the Minister for Security as well as the Military Intelligence and UCC which regulates the communication sector.

Since the raid on MTN, there have been differing reports in the media on what the motive of the operation could have been. Some reports claim it had to do with allegations that the telecom giant has been evading taxes while others point out a possibility of the raid having been of a security nature.

President Museveni recently openly stated while justify the tax that was slapped on Ugandans using social media, that telecom companies have been under declaring the revenue they generate, in order to dodge taxes. It is however, unclear whether last week’s raid had anything to do with this.

MTN on Monday said “contrary to various print and social media reports, MTN is not aware of any investigation into the alleged breach of national security or tax evasion on its part”.

“The public is advised to disregard these reports,” the statement adds.

Mbire noted that MTN is willing to collaborate with the Uganda Police and other security agencies as they investigate the incident.

MTN’s Acting CEO, Anthony Katamba said that MTN has since stepped up security measures at all its offices and various locations.

“We can say it emphatically that no information was accessed or stolen. So our customers can stay rest assured that their data wasn’t compromised,” Katamba assured MTN subscribers.

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