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MTN suits

More confusion over FG, MTN crisis as telco sues AGF challenging tax claims

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Though there are strong indications that MTN Nigeria is close to securing a deal with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over an order to repay $8.1bn it s alleged to have illegally repatriated to South Africa, the company has filed yet, a fresh suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos challenging the legality of N242 billion and $1.3 billion import duties and withholding tax demanded from it by the Federal Government through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
Details gathered b y Business Hilights on the new suit showed that MTN is demanding N3billion general and exemplary damages and legal costs from the defendant before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke Court.
After plea weekend, the suit was adjourned until December 3 for hearing after counsel confirmed that motions have been filed and served on parties.
MTN, in the suit filed on September 10, is challenging the legality of the AGF’s assessment of its import duties, withholding tax and value added tax amounting to N242 billion and $1.3 billion.
The telecom giant is also contending that the purported “revenue assets investigation” allegedly carried out by the Federal Government for the period of 2007 to last year, and its decision conveyed through the Office of the AGF by an August 20 letter, violates the provisions of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
The plaintiff sought a declaration that the AGF acted in excess of its powers by purporting to direct through its letter of May 10 a “self-assessment exercise” which usurps the powers of the Nigerian Customs Service to demand payment of import duties on importation of physical goods.
On the first suit, Bloomberg had last week reported that a settlement might be sealed by Monday and could come as early as Friday, but latest twist may hang up chances of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
This stemmed from revelation that the CBN had emailed invitations on Thursday last week to the Nigeria Heads of Standard Chartered, Citibank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Diamond Bank, to attend a meeting on Friday.
Though there had been denials and counter denials on the planned meeting, analysts say chances of consolidating the two cases ahead of exploring ADR may emerge sooner than later.

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