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Experts blame CBN, banks for breaches in transfer of MTN’s $13.9bn

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More facts are still emerging on the circumstances surrounding the alleged illegal transfer of about $13.9 billion from Nigerian banks to South African banks between 2006 and this year when the bubble burst.

In the views of Alhaji Rilwan Sadiq, a retired Director in one of the banks said “The Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) and all the banks involved in the deal acted in bad faith against the economy”.

He said “The Senate has not even come to the realities of the transfer because I was informed by a reliable source that within the period the money was moved away, the total amount that actually left the economy was about $80bn and the MTN’s share was just $13.9bn.

“The question should be where were the CBN that manages the country’s monetary policies when the transfer spree was going on.

“From my knowledge of public finance and banking which I majored, if on any pretext a central bank allows the flying away of such huge amount without recourse to how the economy will feel, all those involved must face serious sanctions because it is very easy to trace the current recession to that capital flight in the name of repatriation of made profits.

Bayo Ibrahim is an Economist. He explained that “The commercial banks involved should be tried for economic sabotage because they all know the enormity of the act.”

He said “there is no way such amount will be moved out of an African economy that it will remain the same.

To him, “there are lots of things Nigerians or the Senate have not been told on the matter especially as they concern the banks and officials of the apex bank”.

However, Dr. Ken Igboanugo said “Apart from what is now happening to MTN, such transfer may still be going on. I understand that because of the stiff competition among Nigerian banks, some of them are ready to do anything to get huge profit, even if the act is killing the economy or is creating scenarios of gradual stripping of the economy.

He said the escape route that encouraged the banks to get involved in the deal in the first place may be hidden in the prevailing Act regulating international transfers of profits by multinationals.

He said “What MTN gained from may have been what oil majors had been relying on to move their funds quietly out of the economy; all of us are suffering it.

From the submission of these experts, indications are rife that MTN worked on the spirit of available regulations.

This can be seen from the submission of Mr. Ferdi Moolman, chief executive officer of MTN who said it was impossible to follow the provisions of the law on the issuance of Certificates of Capital Importation (CCI) before moving out $13.9 billion out of the country.

Speaking on CCIs issuance in the matter of alleged repatriation of funds out of Nigeria, Moolman, said no dividends were declared or paid until the CCIs were issued and finalised.

In a statement issued by MTN, Moolman added that MTN Nigeria only requested for CCIs for foreign capital that was imported into Nigeria, and dividends were externalised on CCIs.

“Often for various reasons (such as not having all the required documentation for instance), it is not possible to issue a CCI within 24 hours, and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Forex Manual contemplates such situations by asking that the banks refer to the CBN for approval,” he said.

“Besides, the requirement to issue a CCI within 24 hours of conversion is an administrative requirement. As such, the CBN has the authority and, indeed we believe, approved the banks’ applications to issue CCIs outside the recommended time frame.”

Moolman explained that most of the monies moved out of the economy were for importation of necessary equipment for the Nigerian economy.

Trouble began early last month when the ferocious lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial Zone, accused MTN on the floor of the Red Chambers of flouting Nigerian laws by failing to obtain a (CCI) as authorised by CBN Financial and Miscellaneous Act within 24 hours before moving out $13.9 billion out of the country.

Melaye had expressed “serious concerns” that since inception, MTN had sought the collaboration of influential and unpatriotic Nigerians to assist them in looting the country’s external reserves.

According to him,  “The minister of industry, trade and investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, owner of CELTELCOM Investment Limited with address at No 608, St James, Denis Street Port-Lewis Mauritius purportedly claimed to invest in MTN on February 7, 2008, got certificate of capital importation and filled form A on the same date, closed his investment in Nigeria after receiving dollar payment‎ for repatriation to New York same day,” he said, before urging the senate to mandate its committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions to “carry out holistic investigation into the matter”.


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