The Group CEO of MTN Group Limited, Mr Rob Shuter, has attacked Nigeria’s Attorney-General, Mr Abubakar Malami, over the latter’s continued demand that the telecoms company pay an alleged $2 billion tax money it owes Nigeria.
MTN’s innocence? – While commenting on the issue, yesterday, during an investor conference on MTN Group’s 2018 financial result, Mr Shuter maintained the company’s innocence.
The Attorney General is playing games – He also claimed that the Nigerian Attorney General is playing an unnecessary game by pursuing the case. This is because not only is the matter outside of the AG’s jurisdiction, the company (i.e., MTN), isn’t owing any back taxes.
“Now, of course what’s odd about the Nigeria situation is it’s not the Commissioner for Inland Revenue that we have the dispute with. It’s the attorney-general, who is really not mandated to collect tax. So, the legal process is basically saying you’re playing a game that you’re not meant to be playing. And when we talk to the tax authorities they have no particular quarrel with where we are with our various assessments.
“So, either we get the thing chucked out early on and the issue is finished, or it is just one of these lingering things that rolls around in the system for a while. And personally I don’t know which way it’s going to play out.”
Will MTN ever pay the $2 billion?
In September last year, the Nigerian Attorney General first demanded that MTN pay the $2 billion. But MTN refused to make any payment, insisting that it was not owing the Government. Consequently, the case ended in court, even the judge has since adjourned hearing more than once.
It is unclear how the Judge will rule when the protracted court case eventually comes to an end. But whatever the ruling, it seems MTN is determined to maintain its innocence.
“I’m just absolutely adamant that we’re a responsible company, we have paid the taxes we had to pay, and the tax authorities themselves aren’t saying that we owe them anything. So I think we’ve just got to stare this one down.”