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$8bn Fine: MTN Says It’s Regrettable, Capable of Eroding Investor’s Confidence


MTN Nigeria Communications Limited on Thursday said the $8bn slammed on it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was regrettable and capable of eroding investor’s confidence in the nation’s economy.
In a statement on Thursday, MTN rejected the sanction, adding the company is prepared to defend its position on the issue.
Funso Aina, Public Relations Manager, Corporate Affairs/Corporate Relations MTN in a statement said: “MTN Nigeria received a letter on Aug 29 from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) alleging that Certificate of Capital Important (CCIs) issued in respect of the conversion of shareholders’ loans in MTN Nigeria to preference shares in 2007 had been improperly issued.
`As a consequence they claim that historic dividends repatriated by MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015 amounting to $8.1bn need to be refunded to the CBN.
“MTN Nigeria strongly refutes these allegations and claims.
“No dividends have been declared or paid by MTN Nigeria other than pursuant to CCIs issued by our bankers and with the approval of the CBN as required by law,” he said.
The statement stated further: “MTN Nigeria, as a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, is committed to good governance and to abiding by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The re-emergence of these issues is regrettable as it damages investor confidence and, by extension, inhibits the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
“We will engage with the relevant authorities and vigorously defend our position on this matter and provide further information when available.”
The apex bank, Wednesday, slammed the heavy fines on MTN and four banks under its regulatory purview, over what it described as infractions.
The CBN therefore asked the affected banks to refund the sum of $8,134,312,397.63 for “flagrant violation of extant laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006.”
The four banks fined include, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank, and Diamond Bank.
Announcing the decision in Abuja, CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said that the actions of the CBN became necessary following allegations of remittance of foreign exchange with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and subsequent investigations carried out by the apex bank in March 2018.
The CBN has therefore asked the Managements of the banks and MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to immediately refund the sum of $8,134,312,397.63, illegally repatriated by the company to the coffers of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to CBN figures on Wednesday indicate that Standard Chartered Bank was fined N2,470,604,767.13 while Stanbic IBTC Nigeria was fined the sum of N1,885,852,847.45. For its punishment, Citibank Nigeria was penalized in the sum of N1,265,541,562.31, just as Diamond Bank was directed to pay the sum of N250m for violating extant rules.
The CBN Spokesman further disclosed that the decision of the bank followed thorough investigations by it into the allegations of remittances by the four banks of forex with irregular certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.
He said the investigations revealed that the sum of $3,448,119,321.72 was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank on the basis of the illegally issued CCIs. Similarly, he said the sums of $2,632,005,623.78, $1,766,263,212.75 and $348,914,501.30 were repatriated by Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc, respectively during the period 2007 and 2015. Accordingly, he said the CBN had directed the affected banks to immediately refund the respective sums to the CBN.
The CBN investigation further revealed that on account of illegal conversion of MTN shareholders’ loan to preference shares (interest free loan) of $399,594,146.00, the sum of $8,134,312,397.63 was illegally repatriated by the company.
While disclosing that the investigations by the CBN took a while in order to carry out thorough inquiry and give fair hearing to all parties involved, Okorafor advised all banks and multinational companies in Nigeria to adhere strictly to the provisions of all extant laws and regulations of Nigeria in their foreign exchange transactions. He warned that failure by the management of banks and companies to abide by the existing guidelines would be appropriately sanctioned, which sanctions may include denial of access to the Nigerian foreign exchange market.

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