We’ve done noth­ing wrong, MTN tells Nige­rian hear­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

LA­GOS: MTN com­plied with Nige­rian fund trans­fer rules and did not send money out of the coun­try un­til it ob­tained reg­u­la­tory ap­provals, the South African tele­coms com­pany said, deny­ing al­le­ga­tions that it il­le­gally repa­tri­ated $14 bil­lion.

MTN re­quested “cer­tifi­cates of cap­i­tal im­por­ta­tion” for cap­i­tal brought into Nige­ria and div­i­dends were repa­tri­ated based on those in­vest­ments, Ferdi Mool­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of MTN Nige­ria, said.

Nige­ria’s par­lia­ment last month agreed to in­ves­ti­gate whether Africa’s big­gest tele­coms com­pany un­law­fully repa­tri­ated $13.92bn be­tween 2006 and 2016.

MTN’s Mool­man, Nige­rian trade min­is­ter Okechukwu Elen­emah and four lenders ap­peared at a par­lia­men­tary hear­ing on the mat­ter on Thurs­day.

Nige­rian Se­na­tor Dino Me­laye had pro­posed a mo­tion call­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into MTN’s repa­tri­a­tion of funds.

The move comes as Nige­ria strug­gles with its first re­ces­sion in a gen­er­a­tion and dol­lar short­ages due to low oil prices.

The is­sue has bat­tered MTN’s shares, which were down yes­ter­day near a six-year low at R106.83.

Rafiu Ibrahim, chair­man of Nige­ria’s se­nate in­ves­tiga­tive panel on al­leged il­le­gal repa­tri­a­tion of funds, said on Wed­nes­day a team of in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal ac­coun­tancy ex­perts and lawyers had been as­sem­bled to look into the mat­ter.

Nige­ria is MTN’s most lu­cra­tive but in­creas­ingly most prob­lem­atic mar­ket.

Ear­lier this year the com­pany agreed to pay a greatly re­duced fine of 330 bil­lion naira to end a long run­ning dis­pute over un­reg­is­tered SIM cards in Nige­ria.

MTN is the largest mo­bile network op­er­a­tor in Nige­ria, which is the con­ti­nent’s big­gest econ­omy and ac­counts for a third of MTN’s rev­enue. – Reuters

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