Nigeria Gives MTN Two Weeks To Pay $5.2B Fine

Nigeria’s telecoms regulator on Friday gave MTN Group two weeks to pay a $5.2 billion fine imposed on Africa’s biggest mobile phone company for failure to cut off millions of users with unregistered SIM cards.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed the penalty on Monday on MTN’s Nigeria unit, the group’s biggest market by subscribers, sending the phone operator’s stock tumbling by about 20 percent this week, though they bounced 2 percent by midday Friday.

The fine comes months after Muhammadu Buhari swept to the helm of Africa’s biggest oil producer after a campaign in which he promised tougher regulation and a fight against corruption.

The telecoms regulator said MTN failed to disconnect subscribers with unregistered or incomplete SIM cards, after ordering all network operators to do so. NCC said only MTN had failed to comply with the directive.

An NCC source has said the regulator’s decision was based on advice from Nigeria’s state security service, which suspected unregistered SIM cards were being used for criminal activity in a country facing Islamic militant group Boko Haram’s insurgency.

NCC spokesman Tony Ojobo said MTN had until Nov. 16 pay up, but the two sides were in talks to resolve the matter.

“The outcome of the discussion may affect the date. That’s why they are having the discussion so that they can reach a solution,” Ojobo said.

MTN declined comment.

Source: AFK Insider

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