Whistleblower led to the MTN $8.1 billion probe – Official

FILE PHOTO: An MTN starter kit pack on display at a retail stand in Abuja, Nigeria November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

According to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, a whistleblower prompted an investigation into alleged MTN infractions that last week led to a demand for $8.1 billion taken out of Nigeria to be brought back.

Ladidi Mohammed, head of asset recovery, told Reuters in a phone interview that an investigation was then carried out by the central bank.

Nigeria’s central bank said on Wednesday that it had ordered MTN to refund $8.13-billion that it allegedly illegally repatriated and fined four banks involved in the transfer.

The South African telecoms giant in a statement issued on Tuesday said all dividend repatriation out of Nigeria was done on the basis of equity capital and with valid certificates.

The Telecommunications company was also hit with a fresh $2 billion tax arrears claim. MTN gave a brief statement on Tuesday to the market in which it confirmed that Nigeria’s attorney general gave “notice of an intention to recover the $2 billion (1.73 billion euros) from MTN Nigeria”.

“Based on the detailed review performed, MTN Nigeria believes it has fully settled all amounts owing under the taxes in question,” said the company

Nigeria’s central bank said on Wednesday that it had ordered MTN to refund $8.13-billion that it allegedly illegally repatriated and fined four banks involved in the transfer.

News of the unexpected tax bill sent MTN shares tumbling by as much as 7.5% to an almost 10-year low.

It was also the latest challenge to hit MTN since it began operations in Nigeria 17 years ago.

MTN was fined $5.2-billion in 2015 by Nigeria’s telecoms regulator for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards on its network.

The fine was later reduced to $1.7-billion after a series of negotiations with the Nigerian government.

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