MTN says it didn’t breach funds transfer rules

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ABUJA, OCTOBER 22, 2016 – MTN Nigeria said on Friday that it did not breach the country’s funds transfer rules and did not pay dividends until it obtained regulatory approvals to send money out of the country.

The company stated this in reaction to reports in the media that it told the Senate Committee on Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions that circumstances compelled it to move funds without observing the law.

The Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, had reportedly said this on Thursday at the commencement of investigative hearing into the alleged illegal repatriation of $13.9bn out of the country.

However, the telecoms firm said that Moolman “was quoted out of context,” and denied allegations that it transferred $13.9bn illegally.

The telco said that Certificates of Capital Importation were requested for capital brought into Nigeria and that dividends were repatriated based on those investments.

Commenting specifically on the point of the CCIs in the matter of the alleged repatriation of funds out of Nigeria, Moolman said that no dividends were declared or paid until the CCIs were issued and finalised.

He said MTN Nigeria only requested for the CCIs for foreign capital imported into Nigeria, and dividends were externalised on the CCIs.

The MTN Nigeria CEO said, “Often for various reasons (such as not having all the required documentation for instance), it is not possible to issue a CCI within 24 hours, and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Forex Manual contemplates such situations by asking that the banks refer to the CBN for approval.

“Besides, the requirement to issue a CCI within 24 hours of conversion is an administrative requirement. As such, the CBN has the authority, and indeed, we believe, approved the banks’ applications to issue the CCIs outside the recommended timeframe.”

A member of the Senate had on September 27, 2016 alleged that MTN, in connivance with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, and four commercial banks, exploited the porous Nigerian financial system to move the money out of the country without the required authorisation.

The upper legislative chamber, according to a motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye, alleged that MTN smartly beat Nigeria’s financial regulatory laws by failing to obtain the CCIs as mandated by the CBN Financial and Miscellaneous Act within 24 hours between 2006 and 2016 before moving the money out of the country.

It further alleged that the repatriation was done through Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Diamond Bank and Citibank.

The Senate subsequently agreed to investigate whether MTN unlawfully repatriated $13.92bn between 2006 and 2016.

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