Reports in Nigerian newspapers this morning say the Central Bank of Nigeria has ordered MTN to refund an amount of $8.134 billion that it illegally remitted to MTN Group based in Johannesburg, over a period of nine years.
The reports, which Nigerian journalist, Adeola Yusuf confirmed to ghanabusinessnews.com, are on the front page of all major newspapers in the country say the Bank had written to MTN Nigeria on Tuesday August 29, 2018, after carrying out investigations over the period indicated to refund the $8.134 billion with immediate effect.
Three years ago, the Nigerian Communications Commission fined MTN Nigeria an amount of $916 million for not complying with a directive to deactivate unregistered SIM cards in the country. In April this year, MTN paid half of the fine – the company paid $458 million. At the time the fine was imposed on the telecommunications company, the Commission said a large number of its SIM cards were being used by the Boko Haram group to conduct terror attacks, and MTN had failed to deactivate the numbers when the Commission demanded it did so.
According to the reports, the central bank is also sanctioning the local banks that were used to remit the funds. The banks are; Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Stanbic IBTC Bank Limited and Diamond Bank Plc.
The banks were found to have helped MTN to do the illegal transfers between 2007 and 2015, disregarding Nigerian foreign exchange and anti-money laundering laws.
The four banks, the reports say have also been directed by the Bank to refund the $8.134 billion with immediate effect and have individually been fined for the various violations under the laws of Nigeria.
Efforts by ghanabusinessnews.com to contact MTN Nigeria officials by phone were unsuccessful as the calls were responded to by answering machines but weren’t transferred to humans and then dropped after a while.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi