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Promoting Good Governance.

MTN sues CBN, AGF over allegations of illegal repatriation of funds, tax evasion

TELECOMMUNICATIONS giant, MTN, has dragged the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to court following allegations of sharp practices against the company.

The CBN had asked MTN to refund the sum of $8 billion, being money the company allegedly paid to its foreign investors without obtaining valid Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) as required by law.

In like manner, the AGF, Abubakar Malami, accused MTN of evading tax to the tune of over $2 billion. In all, the Nigerian government wants MTN to refund a total sum of $10.134.

However, MTN, a South African company, has continued to insist that it has committed no malfeasance in the course of doing business in Nigeria. The company, therefore, is asking the Federal High Court in Lagos to grant an order restraining the CBN and the office of the AGF from taking further actions with regards to the case until all efforts at resolving the issue has been exhausted.

A statement issued by the company on Monday read in part: “MTN Nigeria Communications Limited (MTN Nigeria) continues to categorically and unequivocally deny all charges related to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) investigations into the company’s CCIs and unpaid taxes respectively.

“In order to protect MTN Nigeria’s assets and shareholders’ rights within the confines of the law, we have applied today in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders, while we continue to engage with the relevant authorities on these matters.

“The allegations being made involve issues that appear to be complex and so are easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. They are made even more confusing when the relevant authorities send conflicting messages and instructions and act in a way that appears un-coordinated and at cross purposes.

“The simple reality is that MTN Nigeria has never repatriated dividends on the CCIs referenced by the CBN, and that MTN is fully compliant with Nigerian tax law.

“With situations like this, it is vital for both the government, regulators and the company to have absolute clarity on the nature of both the allegations being made and the processes that are being followed. In the absence of this clarity, our only option is to seek judicial intervention and to ask the courts to act as adjudicator. This has been done today.”

Tobe Okigbo, MTN’s spokesman, stressed that the company “remains fully committed to Nigeria”, adding, however, that it would continue to “vigorously” defend its position, that it has not committed any offence.

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