Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

CBN gives rare graphic details to build up of latest MTN, banks sanctions

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele on Thursday opened up on salient issues that led to its directive on MTN Nigeria to return $8.1bn it repatriated in connivance with four banks without waiting the final approval of the Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI).
Business Hilights recalls that in August, the apex bank announced sanctions for the four banks that aided the telecom giant in moving away the huge amount and directed it to return the fund.
The four banks involved in the transfer include StanChart, Stanbic, CitiBank and Diamond Bank and CBN had since withdrawn the fines from their respective accounts.
Giving emphasis on the matter in US, he revealed that “There were issues and when issues come up and examiners go into a bank and they find issues that they need do delve into and more detailed, we allow them to do so. There a couple of issues that bothered on not obtaining that final authorisation that they needed to remit money out of the country and I think that it is important that we understand that people must obey the extant laws and regulations that bother foreign exchange in this case for the country. But the summary that I will like to produce on the MTN matter is this.
“This matter started almost about two and a half years ago.
“There were a couple of the issues that we thought that we could deal with and dealt with them and granted them the weaver that we thought…. It is not as if didn’t do anything wrong, but we said yes this were not the right thing because this is a responsible company doing well so they don’t see themselves as being targeted.
“Let’s allow this matter go; but there was a big issue of remitting money without final authorisation and large sums of money, and we thought that it is something that we needed to look at.
“The important matter is that as a regulator, I had operated for twenty seven years as an operator; I never had an opportunity as a regulator calling me and calling my customer into the room and saying that you guys resolve this matter.
Emefiele recalled further that “When this matter broke, I had my doubt about the size or the quantum of funds being talked about.
“I called in MTN into a room; I called in the four banks into room, sitting with over 25 examiners in a room.
“Because I doubted the numbers that the examiners came up with and I said, guys lets resolve this.
“At the point, I would say that I was seen as siding with MTN and the banks
Because I was pleading with them to provide all the documentation that we needed to convince the examiners, you know how the examiners work, if they are 20 examiners, each of them carry their laptops,” Emefiele revealed.
The CBN’s latest remarks are coming barely 48 hours after Nigerians at the end of Tuesday’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting that the apex bank would resolve the $8.1 billion forex repatriation dispute involving MTN and four commercial banks amicably, so that all parties involved and the Nigerian government will be pleased in the end of it all.
Though he was silent on the latest issue MTN had with the federal government which relates to claims of $2 billion import duty evasion this month, it would be recalled that earlier this month, the Attorney General of the Federation, Barr Abubakar Malami had written the telecom giant asking for the payment of tax which the company had contested.
Business Hilights recalls that in 2015, MTN was fined $5.2 billion by Nigeria’s telecoms regulator NCC for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards on its network.
However, in a surprised circumstance, the fine was later reduced to $1.7 billion after a series of negotiations with the Nigerian government.