Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday disclosed that the country’s regulatory clash with telecommunication giant, MTN, was “damaging.” She however said the matter is being sorted out. According to her, the federal government is engaging investors to explain what is happening with MTN.
The minister, who was responding to a question on the recent sanction that was imposed on MTN Nigeria Communications Limited by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), during a session at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja, yesterday, stated that the telecommunications firm only provided what the CBN requested after the bank ordered it and some affected Deposit Money Banks to refund about $8.1bn. “The MTN incident was a very damaging one for us and that was one of the reasons why we have been out trying to engage our investors. But you see there is a tendency for big businesses to take regulation and government for granted.
“Only after that incident happened, all of the information that the CBN had been trying to get for months actually came out. Now, I think they are up to a point where they have almost solved the problem. This is information that the CBN governor had personally met with MTN, with the key banks involved and had asked them to provide the information,” she said. Meanwhile, MTN has said it is holding talks with Nigerian officials to find a “mutually acceptable solution” to a dispute over the alleged transfer of $8.1 billion. MTN made this known in a statement released in Johannesburg, yesterday.
The company said that further announcement on the issue would be made in due course. “Shareholders are advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made,” MTN said.
MTN and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are in a dispute over the transfer of $8.1 billion which the bank said the company had sent abroad and breaches foreign-exchange regulations. But governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, while addressing reporters on October 7 in London said the apex bank may reduce the amount it had ordered MTN Nigeria to repatriate. Emefiele said that new documents provided by the telecom company would help to reduce the size of the claim.