Nigerian Senate to indict MTN Nigeria, Stanbic for USD13.92 billion illegal transfer

MTN

Latest indication from the upper chamber of Nigeria’s parliament, Senate is pointing to a possible indictment for MTN Nigeria, the country’s largest mobile carrier and Stanbic IBTC.

The Senate final report as cited by Reuters has withdrawn earlier version where MTN Nigeria was cleared of allegations of illegal transfers of up to USD13.92 billion from Nigeria.

The said transfers were done between 2006 and 2016.

It would be recalled that Senate alleged MTN did not obtain certificates declaring it had invested foreign currency in Nigeria within a 24-hour deadline stipulated in a 1995 law, and so the repatriation of returns on those investments was illegal.

The Senate formed a committee to investigate the allegations against MTN and financial institutions including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks such as Nigeria’s Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC.

The committee’s report gave no recommendations for punitive measures against MTN.

Instead, the report rebuked Nigeria’s central bank for its failure to monitor fund transfers to and from the country, calling its oversight of banks “inadequate.”

The report recommended that the Senate “condemn the Central Bank of Nigeria for failing in its duty” to address problems with its monitoring of foreign exchange transfers.

The CBN’s duty is to correct and if needed sanction banks and their customers for any wrongdoing, which it never did, said the report, adding that the central bank never testified to the committee that there were any infractions.

By never applying sanctions, the CBN had lent credence to the banks’ argument that they were not breaking any rules by transferring foreign currency, the report said.

However, the report also urged the central bank to “sanction Stanbic IBTC for improper documentations in respect of capital repatriation and loan repayments amounting to $388,195,183 and $199,440,952 respectively”.

CBN, MTN and Stanbic have not commented on the matter.

Prior to now, MTN Nigeria had denied all allegations.

In a statement signed by Ferdi Moolman, MTN Nigeria CEO, he referred to the allegation as untrue and unfounded.

CEO Ferdi Moolman said: “The allegations made against MTN are completely unfounded and without any merit.”

Senator Dino Melaye, a member of the Nigerian Senate has openly alleged that with the connivance of a particular serving minister in the federal cabinet, the said amount was moved to a bank account in New York using the name of a company registered in Mauritius.

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