By Prince Osuagwu (Hi-Tech Editor)
CHAIRMAN MTN Nigeria, Dr Pascal Dozie has said that all monies repatriated by telecommunications operator, MTN Nigeria between 2006 and 2016, were all in respect of payment of dividends and capital divestments.
He also said that such monies originated from legitimate foreign direct investments into the company even as their repatriations complied with extant laws and regulations.
Dozie, in response to the allegations of unscrupulous violation of the foreign exchange laws levelled against the company by the senate committee on banking, denied all suggestions or allegations that the company’s bankers in violation of the FEMM Act and Foreign Exchange Manual, repatriated $13.92 billion illegally out of Nigeria.
Stating his defence before the committee, Dozie argued that “the allegation that MTNN illegally repatriated $13.92 billion out of Nigeria through its bankers between 2006 and 2016 are indeed weighty and factually incorrect. He said “Nothing could be farther from the truth for a company that has actually invested over $16 Billion in Nigeria in a space of 10 years”.
Also denying other allegations, including the incorporation of MTN Nigeria, he said “Various MTN entities incorporated in different jurisdictions appear to have been confused. MTN Limited (“MTN”) is a company incorporated in South Africa and is the parent company of MTNN. MTN is however not a shareholder in MTNN and as such has not repatriated any funds out of Nigeria. MTN International (Mauritius) Limited (“MTNI”) is a company incorporated in Mauritius and is a shareholder in MTNN”.
He also stated “MTNN began operations in 2001.with $284,906,275.96, which was imported by investors in MTNN that was ultimately paid to NCC. Although a further $117,683,987 was imported by MTNN shareholders as investment in MTNN, the funds were imported in several tranches between 2001 and 2006.
“A total of $402,590,262.96 was imported into the Country for investment in MTNN by the MTNN shareholders. These monies were imported at several instances and not in three tranches
“The capital was imported over a period of over 10 years via three banks – Standard Chartered Bank, Diamond Bank Plc and Nigeria International Bank (Citibank)”.
On issuance of certificates of capital importation, Dozie in defence of MTNN, argued that: “The allegations are completely false. MTN complied with extant laws and regulations. Requests for CCIs are continuing events – made as-and-when brought-in. The critical questions at this juncture are: Were foreign currencies imported into Nigeria through an authorized dealer by the providers of capital in MTNN? YES
“How much was imported by the providers of capital in MTNN and when was the foreign currency imported by the providers of capital in MTNN? All of these questions have been sufficiently answered in this response”
Other allegations included: Rendition of returns to CBN and Dozie:
“It is our reasonable belief that Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, as an entity regulated and supervised by the CBN, made the prescribed returns to the CBN within the prescribed time of receipt and conversion of the funds. We are not aware that the CBN has at anytime queried the bank for any default in this regard. As a Nigerian telecommunications company, MTNN is regulated by the NCC”
The use of special purpose vehicles and shareholders loans:
He said, “No entity called MTN International South Africa exists as an incorporated entity. The shareholder loans referred to above were advanced to the Nigerian shareholders by MTNI. This was to empower Nigerians to participate in the huge capital intensive venture and investments.
“As a result of the large capital outlay of the company, MTNN required a significant amount of initial funding from its shareholders. It was also important that the Company has a broad shareholder base made up of several Nigerian investors”
Conversion of shareholders loans
Conversion of shareholders loans to preference shares and private placement:
“As part of a restructuring exercise, in 2007, the Company decided to convert all shareholder loans on its books to preference shares. Through its bankers, MTNN sought the approval of the CBN to carry out the conversion”
Involvement of Dr Okechukwu Enelemah in MTNN:
“We would like to state that Dr. Enelemah has never been a director or shareholder of MTNN. Dr Enelemah is also not the owner of Celtelecom Investment Limited and is neither a promoter nor a shareholder in Celtel Funded Shares SPV (now NISPV Limited).
“In addition, we state that Dr. Enelemah did not make any investment in MTNN on February 7, 2008 and did not repatriate any capital divestment proceeds on February 8, 2008″
Dozie also chronicled some of the contributions of MTNN to the Nigerian economy which he said included Equity contribution of $402, 035,000; Debt capital of N329 billion, and Offshore loan capital of $1,297,000,000; Paid over N1.6 trillion to the Government in Taxes, Levies; has 78 Trade Partners, 95 Data Trade Partners and 25 Convenience Channel Partners.
He also claimed that MTNN has created directly and indirectly over 500,000 jobs in Nigeria; connected a total subscribers base of 60.07million & Population coverage of 92%; made over $16 billion investment in infrastructure and services; has through MTN Foundation (MTNF) committed over N18 Billion towards Health, Education and Economic Empowerment in 550 project locations across the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT .
He also claimed that MTNN is the carrier of certain government platforms, airlines, oil companies, other telecommunications companies among others.