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MTN asks court to restrain CBN, AGF over $8.1bn repatriation, $2bn tax fines

MTN Nigeria Communications Limited (MTN Nigeria) has applied for a court restraint on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from taking further action after it was recently charged for allegedly repatriating $8.1 billion to South Africa without due process, and for evading $2bn taxes.

This is even as the company’s Group CEO, Rob Shutter said in Durban, South Africa on Monday, that a high powered delegation is engaging with the Nigerian authorities on the issues.

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A statement from MTN Nigeria shortly after Shutter’s comments said the company took the court action to protect its assets and shareholders’ rights within the confines of the law.

Its spokesman, Funsho Aina, said, “In order to protect MTN Nigeria’s assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law, we have applied today (Monday) in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders, while we continue to engage with the relevant authorities on these matters.”

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MTN Nigeria Corporate Relations Executive, Tobe Okigbo, in his comment said: “The allegations being made involve issues that appear to be complex and so are easily misunderstood and misinterpreted.

“The simple reality is that MTN Nigeria has never repatriated dividends on the CCIs referenced by the CBN and that MTN is fully compliant with Nigerian tax law,” he noted.

He said while the firm and government are engaging for absolute clarity, “our only option is to seek judicial intervention and to ask the courts to act as adjudicator. This has been done today.”

MTN said it remained fully committed to Nigeria and that it has not committed any offence and will continue to defend its position vigorously.

The Group CEO, Mr Shutter told journalists in Durban, yesterday that the South African telecom company was engaging with relevant officials and agencies in Nigeria to resolve all the challenges it has in the country.

Mr Shutter briefed the press along with Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Mr Haoulin Zhao; South African Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele; Vice President of Huawei Technologies, Mr J Zhaou and Chief Investment Officer of Telekom, Mr Deon Fredericks.

He said, “We are still committed to the Nigerian market despite the challenges. Nigeria is our largest market since 2001 when we launched there. We have been engaging with the authorities to get the issues solved, and I believe we are going to solve them soon.”

MTN was fined $5.2bn in October 2015 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect millions of unregistered SIM cards on its network.

The fine was later reduced to $1.7bn (N330bn) after a series of negotiations with the Nigerian government. The company has since paid N165bn of the fine.


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