MTN Nigeria disclosed on Monday that it had applied to the Federal High Court in Lagos for an order restraining the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice from taking further actions against it.
The move, according to the telecommunication company, is necessary to protect its assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law.
MTN, while maintaining its innocence on all the allegations levelled against it, pledged to continue to engage with the regulatory authorities to clarify the issues of repatriation of dividends worth $8.1bn and alleged unpaid taxes of $2bn.
Commenting on the development, MTN Nigeria’s Corporate Relations Executive, Tobe Okigbo, said the allegations against the firm were complicated by the uncoordinated approach of the regulators.
He stated, “The allegations being made involve issues that appear to be complex and 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 uncoordinated and at cross purposes.
“The simple reality is that MTN Nigeria has never repatriated dividends on the Certificates of Capital Importation 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.”
The CBN had imposed a total of N5.87bn on four banks for allegedly remitting dividends with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation on behalf of MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015.
The apex bank had also asked the lenders, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Citibank and Diamond Bank, as well as MTN Nigeria to refund the sum of $8.1bn it claimed they repatriated illegally during the period.
Few days after, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, also demanded the payment of N2bn tax arrears on foreign payments and imports by the telecommunication company.
The CBN subsequently debited N1.886bn from the account of Stanbic IBTC; N2.4bn from Standard Chartered; N1.2bn from Citigroup; and N250m from Diamond Bank for funds transfer infringement despite their plea of no wrong-doing.
The central bank normally debits the accounts of banks when it imposes a fine, or to implement aspects of its monetary policies, such as cash reserve requirements.