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Promoting Good Governance.

CBN fines banks, MTN billions for illegal repatriation of forex

FOUR Nigerian banks have been fined a total sum of N5.87 billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for allegedly “breaching Nigeria’s forex regulations on MTN’s illegal capital repatriation”.

Also, MTN, Nigeria’s biggest telecommunication company, was also ordered to refund the sum of $8.134 billion for the same offence.

The banks are Citibank Nigeria, Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC Nigeria and Standard Chartered Bank. They were fined N1.2 billion, N250 million, N1.8 billion and N2.4 billion respectively.

CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said the sanctions followed an investigation into allegations of foul play in the remittance of foreign exchange on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN.

Okorafor said the investigations showed that the sum of $3,448,119,321.72 was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank on the basis of the illegally issued CCIs (Certificates of Capital Importation). Stanbic IBTC repatriated $2,632,005,623.78; Citibank Nigeria – $1,766,263,212.75, and Diamond Bank  $348,914,501.30.

The offences were allegedly committed between 2007 and 2015, and according to Okorafor, the banks had been directed to refund the monies to the CBN.

However, in a swift response, MTN Nigeria said it will engage the CBN and provide necessary evidence to show that it broke no law.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the telecoms refuted CBN’s allegations and claims, insisting that “no dividends have been declared or paid by MTN Nigeria other than pursuant to CCIs issued by our bankers and with the approval of the CBN as required by law”.

The company explained that issues about CCIs have been thoroughly investigated by the Nigerian Senate in 2016, and that a report submitted by the Senate  Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions cleared the company of any wrongdoing.

“MTN Nigeria, as a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, is committed to good governance and to abiding by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the statement read in part.

“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.”

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