One of the mobile telecoms giants in Nigeria, MTN yesterday refuted the claims by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that it illegally in collusion with four banks repatriated the sum of $8.1billion from the country.
Recall, the apex bank imposed heavy sanctions totaling N5.87 billion on four banks under its regulatory purview and asked same to refund the sum of $8,134,312,397.63 for what it described as ‘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 that have come under the sledge hammer of the CBN for the violations are Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank, Diamond Bank.
CBN slams N2.4billion fine on Standard Chartered, N1.8billion on Stanbic IBTC, N1.2billion on Citibank, N0.25 billion on Diamond Bank. All to also refund a total of $8.134 billion for breaching Nigeria’s forex regulations on MTN’s illegal capital repatriation.
However, the Public Relations Manager, Corporate Affairs/Corporate Relations MTN, Mr Funso Aina dismissed CBN’s claims.
He 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 $8.1 billion 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.
Aina said that the issues surrounding the CCIs had already been the subject of a thorough enquiry by the Senate of Nigeria.
He added that in September 2016 the Senate mandated the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation on compliance with the Foreign exchange (monitoring and miscellaneous) Act by MTN Nigeria & Others.
He said that in its report issued in November 2017, the findings evidenced that MTN Nigeria did not collude to contravene the foreign exchange laws and there were no negative recommendations made against MTN Nigeria.
“MTN Nigeria, as a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, is committed to good governance and to abide 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”, he said.