MTN applies to Nigeria high court for ‘relief’ over $10 billion penalties

MTN said in a note on Monday that it has applied in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for ‘injunctive relief’ to protect its assets from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (AGF).

The beleaguered mobile operator noted that CBN has alleged improper dividend repatriations by MTN Nigeria and requested that $8.1 billion be returned “to the coffers of the CBN” whilst the AGF has alleged unpaid taxes on foreign payments and imports and that approximately $2.0 billion in relation to these taxes be paid to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“MTN Nigeria has denied these allegations and claims,” the group said.

Four commercial banks were also issued fines in respect of the administration of the CCI and irregular dividend repatriation matter and requested to return, in aggregate, the same $8.1 billion, MTN said.

In a note on Monday, MTN said: “In order to protect MTN Nigeria’s assets and shareholder rights within the confines of Nigerian 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.

“We remain resolute that MTN Nigeria has not committed any offences and will continue to vigorously defend its position,” it said.

MTN chief executive officer, Rob Shuter, told reporters at the ITU Telecom World conference in Durban on Monday, that Nigeria, is the group’s largest market. “We do have some challenges these past few weeks, but we believe we will be able to make our case and I’m sure we will move past that as soon as we can.”

“We believe that we have complied with all relevant laws, and in light of that, and the conflicting instructions from different organs of State, we have had no choice but to seek relief from the Courts in Nigeria. We remain firmly committed to the Nigerian market and will continue to engage with the authorities on these matters.”

MTN’s share price has declined more than 30% in the past two weeks, trading at R74.50, from a high of R140 in January, giving the company a market cap of R140 billion.

Read: MTN shares tank as it gets hit with new $2 billion Nigerian tax nightmare

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MTN applies to Nigeria high court for ‘relief’ over $10 billion penalties