$8.1bn MTN vs CBN: Court fixes hearing Dec. 4
A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till Dec. 4, hearing in a dispute between MTN Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) over alleged illegal repatriation of $8.1 billion by the telecoms company.
Justice Saliu Saidu also adjourned till Nov. 8, hearing in a case of $2.0 billion tax non-payment made against MTN Nigeria by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
MTN filed the suits. It is seeking an injunction to restrain the CBN and AGF from taking further actions to reclaim the alleged debts.
The CBN alleged that the telecoms firm improperly repatriated dividends. The apex bank requested that MTN should return $8.1 billion to its coffers.
On the other hand, the AGF claimed that MTN did not pay taxes on foreign payments and imports of approximately $2.0 billion. It demanded that the company should pay the sum.
MTN, however, denied the allegations.
On Dec. 4, the court will hear an interlocutory application by the MTN seeking to retrain the CBN from taking steps to reclaim the alleged debt.
The court will also hear an application by the CBN challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) appeared for the MTN while Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) appeared for CBN.
Economic Confidential recalls that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in August this year wielded the big stick on mobile telecom firm, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, and four commercial banks for alleged financial infractions.
The CBN’s spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, in a statement made available to Economic Confidential said the apex bank wrote to MTN Nigeria demanding a refund of about $8.13 billion (about N2.5trillion at N306.15 to $) allegedly repatriated illegally out of Nigeria.
Mr Okorafor said the affected banks, including Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank and Diamond Bank, would refund various amounts totaling N5.87 billion.
Standard Chartered was asked to refund N2.5 billion; Stanbic IBTC (N1.9 billion); Citibank (N1.3 billion and Diamond Bank (N250 million).
The banks were accused of committing “flagrant violation of extant laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006.”
The CBN spokesperson said the Bank resolved to sanction the commercial banks following investigations in March 2018 which confirmed allegations of remittance of foreign exchange with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria.
Details showed about $35.5billion was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank based on illegally issued CCIs, while about $2.6billion, $1.8 billion and $348.9million fraudulently issued by Stanbic IBTC, Citibank and Diamond Bank respectively between 2007 and 2015.
Besides, the CBN said further investigations revealed that on account of illegal conversion of MTN shareholders’ loan to preference shares (interest free loan) of $399.6million, about $8.13 billion was illegally repatriated by MTN.