Nigeria’s attorney general has withdrawn a $2 billion tax demand against operator MTN Nigeria in a saga that dates back to August 2018, when the demand was first issued.
MTN Nigeria then commenced legal action in Nigeria against the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Minister of Justice (AGF), a court action postponed to 30 January 2020.
MTN Nigeria says it has been informed that, following careful review and due consultation with relevant statutory agencies, the AGF has decided to refer the matter to the relevant authorities – the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and Nigeria Customs (NC) – with a view to them resolving the issues. Thus, although this is not necessarily the end of the matter, the AGF has withdrawn its letter of demand for $2 billion.
In turn MTN Nigeria plans to withdraw its legal action against the AGF and engage with FIRS and NC on this issue.
MTN says it remains committed to building and maintaining cordial relationships with all regulatory authorities in Nigeria. MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said, “We appreciate this decision of the Attorney General which paves the way to an orderly and amicable resolution of this matter.”
It seems that the curtain might finally be coming down on a period of turbulent relations between NTN Nigeria and the government. The $2 billion tax bill in 2018 followed a demand for $8.1 billion Nigeria claims was illegally taken out of the country between 2007 and 2015. MTN eventually made a $53 million payment, and denied the allegations throughout the case.