November 9, 2017

$14BN ILLEGAL REPATRIATION: Senate approves report exonerating MTN

By Prince Osuagwu

ABUJA — INDICATIONS emerged yesterday that the Senate has approved a report exonerating MTN Nigeria of allegation that it illegally repatriated $13.92 billion to its parent company in South Africa between 2006 and 2016.

The allegations first appeared in a motion proposed by Senator Dino Melaye, in September 2016, seeking an investigation into the forex transfer history of the telecommunications company within the period.

The Senate motion said Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citigroup and Diamond Bank were involved in the alleged illegal transfers, while Trade and Investment Minister Okechukwu Enelamah was among people used by MTN to help repatriate the funds.

The Senate agreed in September last year to investigate if the telecoms firm unlawfully repatriated the said amount from Nigeria.

However, a report was first presented in July, exonerating MTN of wrong doing but the Senate immediately withdrew it and asked the committee to do more work on the report because it did not capture possible infractions by all stakeholders.

Vanguard gathered that the upper chamber of the National Assembly has now approved the report but requested Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to sanction Stanbic IBTC Bank “for improper documentations in respect of capital repatriation and loan repayments” on behalf of MTN.

The senate investigation did not receive proof of collusion to contravene Nigeria’s foreign exchange laws, according to the report.

“There was evidence of massive capital outflow but that fact alone is not conclusive that a crime has been committed,” the report said.

The senate committee also said that CBN’s failure to properly regulate foreign exchange should be condemned.

The report challenged Apex bank to propose amendments to current regulation to foster economic growth and improve Nigeria’s foreign currency inflows.

Meanwhile, a reliable source at MTN Nigeria who confirmed the new development said that the senate approval has vindicated MTN Nigeria’s  Chief Executive Ferdi Moolman, who during a senate hearing on the case, maintained that “the allegations made against MTN are completely unfounded and without any merit.