Nigeria urged by comms minister to tread carefully with MTN investigation

Nigerian communications minister Adebayo Shittu has cautioned that the country’s current investigation into alleged illegal activity by MTN must not “scare away” the market leader.

The country’s telecom authorities are looking into allegations that MTN used illegal channels to transfer $13.9 billion out of Nigeria over a ten year period, although Shittu stated that the firm is being presumed not guilty, saying “[We] pray they remain innocent.”

The accusations were made a scant three months after MTN settled a long-running dispute with Nigeria’s government regarding unregistered SIM cards, which concluded with the operator agreeing to pay a $1.04 billion fine over the next three years.

MTN CEO Ferdi Moolman has previously claimed that the allegations are “completely unfounded and without merit”, and there have even been suggestions that the market leader could pull out of Nigeria due to the “endless hostility” of the telecom authorities.

The operator had been cooperating with the Nigerian stock exchange into the second week of January ahead of a scheduled listing on the Nigerian stock market later on in 2017. Reports have surfaced indicating that this could now be delayed into 2018.

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