As more facts continue to emerge about MTN’s recent troubles with the Nigerian authorities, it has been revealed that a whistleblower gave the tipoff that prompted an investigation by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
This was disclosed yesterday (September 4th) by Mr Ladidi Mohammed, the Head of Asset Recovery at the Officer of Nigeria’s Attorney General who granted a phone interview to Reuters on the matter.
According to him, the whistleblower’s tipoff led the CBN to conduct the investigation that eventually led to Nigeria’s demand that MTN refund the sum of $8.1 billion which it had been accused of illegally taking out of the country.
As we reported, the CBN accused MTN of breaching Nigeria’s extant laws and forex rules when it remitted the sum of $8.1 billion with the help of four banks. The repatriated funds were used to shareholders and offset debts.
Meanwhile, MTN has continued to assert its innocence on the alleged illegality pertaining to the remittances. Just yesterday, the company said in a statement that “all dividend repatriation out of Nigeria was done on the basis of equity capital and with valid certificates.”
MTN was also recently asked to pay the sum of $2 billion in back taxes which it owes the Nigerian Government; a development which the telco equally declines.
Currently, there is growing concern over the company’s ability to overcome all these regulatory challenges. Currently, MTN Group is reportedly lobbying authorities over the $8.1 billion demand which is about half of its market capitalisation.
There is also the uncertainty surrounding MTN’s planned Nigerian IPO which must happen by May 2019; lest the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reimpose an initial fine of $5 billion.
But despite MTN’s many regulatory issues, its Group CEO (Rob Shutter) said yesterday that the company remains committed to Nigeria. This is unsurprising, considering that Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, generating most of its revenue.