As more issues continue to rise from the CBN order requiring MTN Group Limited to return some $8.1 billion that was illegally taken away from Nigeria by the company, the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has voiced support for their member, while criticising the apex bank’s decision.
The group’s President, Mr Oulsola Teniola, recently made it known that Nigeria’s Central Bank has no right to mandate the telco to refund the money. This is because the $8.1 belongs to MTN, he said.
Therefore, Mr Teniola went further to ask what the Central Bank of Nigeria intends to achieve by mandating MTN to refund the money.
He also spoke about the issue of $2 billion worth of back taxes allegedly owed by MTN Communications Nigeria Limited, echoing the company’s earlier sentiment that the money had already been paid.
“IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE FIGURE REFERRED TO HAS ALMOST BEEN FULLY PAID BY MTN AND THAT THE $8.1BILLION DOESN’T BELONG TO CBN BUT BELONGS TO MTN. SO, ON THIS BASIS, IT IS HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHAT CBN SEEKS (TO ACHIEVE) BY ITS DEMANDS ON MTN THAT IT DOESN’T HAVE REGULATORY OVERSIGHT OVER.” -TENIOLA
He also proffered a possible solution to the matter, emphasising the need for “clarity, transparency and a continued dialogue between the CBN, the banks and MTN” as a way to peacefully resolve the dispute. According to him, this is for the best interest of all the parties involved, and particularly so all the potential investors who have been closely monitoring the development since it began.
Nairametrics was among the first outlets to break the news about the apex bank’s demand that it refund the sum of $8.1 billion which the telco was alleged to have illegally taken out of the country between 2006 and 2016.
The CBN had also imposed a fine of ₦5.86 billion on the four banks that were accused of facilitating the illegality; including Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank Plc and Citibank.
While some of the implicated banks have already paid their fines, MTN has yet to return the money to Nigeria as directed. Instead, it has continued to deny any wrongdoing, and just yesterday stated that it has taken both the CBN and Nigeria’s Attorney General to court with hopes of halting the [altogether] $10.1 billion payment required of it; whilst protecting the company’s assets in Nigeria and shareholders’ rights.