Barely three years after MTN was fined $5.2 billion in Nigeria for not complying with government’s rule on deactivation of unregistered SIM cards, emerging details have again exposed the South African telecoms giant in an illegal repatriation of $8,134,312,397.63 from the country, in violation of the extant Nigerian foreign exchange and anti-money laundering laws.
According to THISDAY NG report, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had carried out its investigation into the illegal remittances to MTN’s Johannesburg-based parent company over a nine-year period and subsequently wrote to the Nigeria subsidiary on Tuesday demanding that the $8.134 billion be refunded with immediate effect to the CBN.
The CBN also exposed four banks in connection with the multi-billion dollars money laundering and the illegal foreign exchange remittances to MTN’s parent company in South Africa.
The banks discovered to have aided MTN in its illegal repatriation of $8.134 billion between 2007 and 2015 are Diamond Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank Nigeria Limited, and Stanbic IBTC Bank Limited.
According to the report, the four banks have also been directed by the CBN to refund the $8.134 billion with immediate effect and were respectively fined by the central bank for the various violations regarding the remittances undertaken on behalf of MTN Nigeria.
After the issuance of its operating licence by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2001, the shareholders of MTN Nigeria invested the sum of $402,590,261.03 between 2001 and 2006 to fund its investments in the country by way of inter-company loans and equity investments.
The investments were carried out through the inflow of foreign currency cash transfers and equipment importation, which was evidenced through the Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued by the four banks.
The CCIs issued at the time of the investment of $402.6 million showed that $59,436,923.44 was invested by way of a shareholder loan and $343,153,339.56 as equity.
However, this position was contrary to MTN’s financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2007, which showed that $399,594,146 was invested in the firm by way of a shareholder loan and $2,996,117 was invested as equity investment, in accordance with the shareholder’s agreement, but contrary to CCIs issued by StanChart, Citibank and Diamond Bank.
This was deemed as a rendition of false returns by the banks to the CBN.
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