Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed today that the $8.1billion which MTN Group Limited is expected to repatriate to Nigeria may get reviewed.
The Governor, who was speaking to journalists in London, said that MTN and the other parties involved in the matter have presented the apex bank with new documents which are being studied by CBN staffers.
The documents could potentially help to ease the pressure on the telco by bringing both disputing parties to an amicable resolution.
“I don’t think it will be at $8.1 billion having provided documents.
“They will see they have been given a fair hearing. More information has been provided and I’m very optimistic that matters are going to be resolved amicably.’’ -Emefiele
It is obvious that the CBN is reconsidering its initial combative stance on this matter, going by its willingness to see through an amicable solution. Dr Emefiele even noted that he is interested in getting the issue resolved in order to avoid giving international investors the wrong impression about the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
He also stated that the dispute between the CBN and the South African company should never have gone beyond the borders of Nigeria and portrayed the country in a negative light by so doing. This is because the matter is an “isolated” one, he said.
In the meantime, it remains to be seen how this all plays out. Recall that the CBN had asked a Federal High Court to mandate MTN to start paying 15% annual interest on the $8.1billion until a court ruling, and then 10% afterwards until the entire sum was paid off. Perhaps, this nearly-impossible demand will not have to hold after all.
As we reported, a CBN investigation unraveled that MTN Nigeria illegally moved the sum of $8.1billion to South Africa between 2007 and 2015. Four banks -Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Citibank, and Diamond Bank Plc- facilitated the alleged crime.
Whereas MTN was mandated to return the money to Nigeria, the banks were fined a total of ₦5.86 billion as punishment.
Note that Nigeria s MTN’s biggest market. And as the company’s group’s CEO (Mike Shutter) had noted, the ongoing rift will not affect the company’s relationship with Nigeria. But there have been concerns about MTN’s planned IPO on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE. Even the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Ralf Muputa, recently admitted that planned IPO on the NSE could be affected due to the ongoing dispute.