MTN Nigeria has “strongly refuted” claims that it repatriated dividends worth $8.1 billion from the country between 2007 and 2015, after the Central Bank of Nigeria demanded that the operator return this sum.
The Central Bank alleges that MTN did not have the necessary approvals to repatriate the amount in question - a charge which the operator denies. MTN has stood accused of improper repatriation of funds from Nigeria in the past, but a 2016 investigation found that the operator did not “collude to contravene the foreign exchange laws” with which it had allegedly failed to comply.
In the same year, MTN settled a protracted dispute with Nigeria’s communications authorities by paying a $1.67 billion fine. The final amount was substantially reduced from the original penalty, which the operator incurred after missing the deadline for registering personal information about 5.1 million of its subscribers.
In a statement about the Central Bank’s order, the operator said: “the re-emergence of these issues is regrettable as it damages investor confidence and, by extension, inhibits the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. We will engage with the relevant authorities and vigorously defend our position on this matter and provide further information when available.”
According to the Financial Times, MTN’s share price fell by almost 20% after the order was issued.