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Three years after facing a record-breaking $5.2 billion fine in Nigeria, South Africa’s telecommunications giant, MTN, is again in trouble with the Nigerian government over the illegal repatriation of $8,134,312,397.63 from the country, in violation of the extant laws and regulations.
According to THISDAY, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), having carried out its investigation into the illegal remittances to MTN’s Johannesburg-based parent company over a nine-year period, wrote to the Nigeria subsidiary on Tuesday demanding that the $8.134 billion be refunded with immediate effect to the CBN.
The illegal foreign exchange remittances to MTN’s parent company in South Africa, said the sources, was done through four Nigerian banks.
The banks – Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Stanbic IBTC Bank Limited and Diamond Bank Plc – were found to have helped MTN illegally repatriate $8.134 billion between 2007 and 2015, despite the fact that the telecoms giant was in violation of the extant Nigerian foreign exchange and anti-money laundering laws.
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.