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$8.1bn: Senate clears us—MTN

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By Yinka Kolawole, with agency report

Telecommunication firm MTN, yesterday, refuted claims by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that it illegally repatriated $8.1billion from its Nigerian operations to offshore investors, in collusion with four Nigerian banks.

CBN said two days ago that MTN repatriation violated its rule that required such transaction be done with regular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued by the apex bank.

The apex bank further claimed MTN did the repatriation after illegally converting shareholders’ loan of $399, 594,146 to preference shares.

But in a statement by Mr Funso Aina, MTN’s Corporate Affairs Manager, the firm stated: “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 CBN as required by law.”

He added that the issue surrounding the CCIs was already subject of a thorough enquiry by the Nigerian Senate.

Aina noted 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 and others.

He claimed that in its report issued last November, the Senate’s findings evidenced that MTN Nigeria did not collude to contravene the foreign exchange laws and there were no negative recommendations made against MTN 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 further said.

Following the accusation of illegal repatriation  of funds, shares of MTN Nigeria fell by 18 percent as the market opened yesterday. The share price was down 14 percent as  at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, in its reaction, Standard Chartered Bank stated: “As previously disclosed, we are committed to fully co-operating with the regulators on this matter. Whilst we cannot provide additional information due to ongoing engagement with the regulators, we look forward to a rapid resolution and satisfactory outcome of this matter.”

On its part, Diamond Bank, in a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), said it was co-operating with the apex regulator to ensure the matter was resolved.  The bank also stated that the development would not impact on customers’ ability to do business, adding that “any updates on any new development will be made available to all stakeholders.”

It reiterated that it had complied with all regulatory policies issued.

As at the time of this report, the bank’s share was trading at N1.27 on the NSE, down 8.63 percent.

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