MTN MAKES PROGRESS ON $8.1B NIGERIA ROW

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MTN Group received a boost in Nigeria after the country’s central bank softened its stance over a claim the operator transferred $8.1 billion out of the country illegally.

Bloomberg reported the Central Bank of Nigeria issued an email statement, citing representative Isaac Okorafor, which said MTN had provided additional information over the allegations that may lead to an “equitable resolution”.

MTN was last month ordered to refund $8.1 billion that the bank said had illegally been taken out of the country through dividends.

Shortly after, MTN’s woes in the country increased after the national regulator fined it $2 billion in back taxes related to the import of non-domestic equipment and payments to suppliers over the past decade.

The bank’s latest statement notably did not mention the tax fine.

MTN has refuted both claims, but said last week the claim for a total $10.1 billion in penalties would hinder a planned IPO in the country.

Step in the right direction
In the statement, Okorafor said four banks also provided further detail on the $8.1 billion claim, which will be reviewed by the central bank.

MTN has a history of long-running disputes in Nigeria and it will hope it can, indeed, find an amicable resolution as it did two years ago in another high-stakes row, when it negotiated a $5.2 billion fine relating to violations of rules around unregistered subscribers down to $1.7 billion.

Olusola Teniola, president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria said the latest development was “a step in the right direction. Continued dialogue to reach an amicable resolution is a minimum standard expected by the investment community”.

Source: Chamber News Desk

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