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MTN justifies twofold approach to its misunderstandings with CBN, AGF

…But prefers out of court settlement

The leading telecommunications giant in Nigeria, MTN has given emphasis on what it described as twofold strategy to the ongoing differences between the company and two major government agencies, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

Whereas its issue with the CBN was on breaches in Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) which the apex bank had already sanctioned four participating banks and itself over $8.1bn transfer, the other matter borders on what the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami described as breaches in import duties over a period of time.

On both matters, the MTN is both in court of competent jurisdiction and also exploring alternative dispute resolution windows.

Explaining more on why MTN is on both approaches at the ongoing AfricaCom summit in South Africa, the chief executive, Mr. Rob Shuter, said in Cape Town alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is underway between it and the CBN, adding that even though they are in court, the apex bank and other institutions and is “narrowing down what the key issues are.”

According to him, MTN’s strategy is twofold: seek legal action while simultaneously looking for an amicable resolution.

Shuter made it clear that “We would like a resolution out of court and normal engagements as that would be faster than a court process,” stressed that “MTN had no intention of walking away from Nigeria.”

However, there seems to be a clog in the wheel of ADR progress as the Senate has bumped on what it described as slashing the MTN’s $8.1bn fine to about $800m which it dissociated itself from, saying the illicit collaboration with the CBN had allegedly perfected arrangements to reduce the fine through “the back door.”

Otherwise, the senators are accusing the executive through the CBN of taking a unilateral action without recourse to the upper chamber, which had earlier investigated the alleged scam and exonerated the telecommunications giant.

Reacting to the decision by the executive to slash the fine, the Chairman of the Senate panel that investigated the alleged scam, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, said, “The CBN failed to implement the Senate resolution before conducting another investigation into the alleged infraction by MTN.”

Ibrahim said his committee would request the CBN report on the matter in order to take a definite action on the issue.