MTN To Refund $8b As CBN Fines Four Banks

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Mobile giant MTN Nigeria is to refund $8,134,312, 397.63 it illegally repatriated to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the apex bank said yesterday.

The CBN said it had imposed N5.87 billion sanctions on four banks, which are to refund $8,134,312, 397.63 for “flagrant violation of extant laws and regulations of Nigeria, including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006”.

So far, the telco has paid N165 billion out of N330 billion fine, representing 60 per cent of total payment, according to the CEO of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta.

CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, in a statement in Abuja, said the actions of the apex bank became necessary following allegations of remittance of foreign exchange (forex) with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and subsequent investigations carried out by the apex bank in March this year.

The four lenders also came under the sledge hammer of the CBN for violations of extant forex regulations. The lenders are Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank, and Diamond Bank.

Figures obtained from the CBN yesterday indicate that the highest fine of N2,470,604,767.13 was slammed on Standard Chartered Bank. Stanbic IBTC Nigeria was fined N1,885,852,847.45. Citibank Nigeria was penalised N1,265,541,562.31. Diamond Bank was directed to pay N250 million.

Okoroafor said the decision followed thorough investigations into the allegations of remittances by the four banks of forex with irregular certificates of CCIs issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.

He said $3,448,119,321.72 was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank on the basis of the illegally issued CCIs. Similarly, $2,632,005,623.78, $1,766,263,212.75 and $348,914,501.30 were repatriated by Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc between 2007 and 2015. The CBN directed the banks to immediately refund the sums.

The apex bank’s investigation revealed that on account of illegal conversion of MTN shareholders’ loan to preference shares (interest free loan) of $399,594,146.00, $8,134,312,397.63 was illegally repatriated by the telco.

Okoroafor  said investigations by the CBN took a while in order to carry out a thorough inquiry and give fair hearing to all parties involved. He advised all banks and multinational companies to adhere strictly to the provisions of all extant laws and regulations in their forex transactions. He warned that failure by the management of banks and companies to abide by existing guidelines would be appropriately sanctioned. Sanctions may include denial of access to local forex market.

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