MTN has made a payment of N30 billion ($98 million) to the Nigerian government in part settlement of a N330 billion fine imposed on the telecoms group for not disconnecting unregistered SIM cards, a source from MTN has said.
Africa’s largest telecoms company has already paid 80 billion naira of the total amount owed, the source said.
The fine is due for payment in six instalments over three years, MTN has said.
MTN Nigeria was originally fined $5.2 billion last October for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards, but the fine was reduced in a settlement that paved the way for MTN to list its subsidiary on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Nigeria has been cracking down on unregistered SIM cards, concerned that they are used for criminal activity in a country fighting an insurgency by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
MTN, which operates in 20 countries, had set aside $600 million last year to pay the fine.
Meanwhile, the attention of the management of the Federal Ministry of Finance has been drawn to a story in The Punch newspaper of Tuesday, March 28, 2017 entitled, “Probe Uncovers Massive Fraud in YouWin Programme.”
It will be recalled that the current administration inherited YouWin as an ongoing programme, which had made legally binding commitments of grants to 1,500 entrepreneurs. The administration decided that those commitments should be honoured. It was in that regard that a batch of awardees under YouWin 3 was submitted to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for cash disbursement totaling N611, 821, 910 million.
Allegations were received from an anonymous whistleblower, which provided documentary evidence of irregularities in 10 cases out of the batch. The Minister immediately directed that an internal investigation be conducted to determine the veracity of the alleged fraud and report the findings to her for necessary action.
The substance of the allegations was that an awardee was the child of a former Director in the Ministry and there were a number of cases where married couples each benefitted. This raised concerns about the integrity of the original selection process, which took place in 2014.
The position of the Ministry is that investigations are ongoing under the Presidential Initiative on Continues Audit (PICA) who will review each suspected case to determine whether any irregularity occurred. In the interim, disbursements of this batch have been suspended. It is on record that the original YouWin programme midwife 3, 900 enterprises within four years, and was just one of the multiple intervention programmes to create jobs at the time.