CBN Has Ordered MTN And 4 Other Banks To Refund $8.1 Billion
Nigeria’s central bank (CBN) has ordered Africa’s telecoms giant, MTN and four other banks to “refund a total of $8.134billion moved out of the country” for breaching the country’s forex regulations.
The bank also slammed a huge N5.8 billion fine on the banks for allegedly aiding MTN in the illegal capital repatriation.
The regulatory authority said the bank issued irregular certificates of capital importation (CCIs) on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.
The affected banks and their fines are Standard Chartered Bank (N2.4 billion), Stanbic IBTC (N1.8bn), Citibank (N1.2bn) and Diamond bank with N0.25 billion.
Isaac Okoroafor, CBN’s spokesperson, said the fine was necessary after allegations of remittance of foreign exchange with irregular certificates of capital importation issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and subsequent investigations carried out by the apex bank in March 2018.
Okoroafor said the investigations indicated that the sum of $3,448,119,321.72 was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank on the basis of the illegally issued CCIs.
Similarly, he said Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc, repatriated the sums of $2,632,005,623.78, $1,766,263,212.75 and $348,914,501.30 between 2007 and 2015.
He said the CBN had directed the affected banks to immediately refund the respective sums.
How MTN ‘moved’ half of Nigeria’s external reserves out of the economy
In 2016, Nigerian lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, (Kogi West) alerted the National Assembly on how MTN repatriated about $12 billion out of the country over a 10-year period.
In a motion raised at the plenary, Melaye said, “My respected colleagues, MTN Nigeria paid a sum of $284.9 million on the 6th of February, 2001, to purchase their licence of operations in this country.
“Between 2006 and 2016, through four Nigerian banks and a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, MTN moved over 12 billion dollars out of Nigeria.
“That is about half of our external reserves. If I get the nod of the Senate I will want to bring a substantive motion on the next legislative day with substantiated facts to buttress this position,” he had said.
The motion generated reactions from every quarter, less than a year after the telecoms giant was slammed a record fine of $5.2 billion for failing to deactivate unregistered sims.
Standard Chartered Bank’s role
The Bank had also in 2016 assured regulators that it will fully cooperate into the alleged illegal repatriation of funds by MTN.
MTN Nigeria denies repatriation of funds
In the same year, MTN denied involvement in any wrongdoing.
There have been no comments from the banks and the telecommunication giant as at the time of publishing this report.