Illegal Repatriation of Profits: MTN, CBN opt for out-of-court settlement
MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that they have resolved to opt for an out-of-court settlement of the dispute on the alleged improper repatriation of over $8.1bn profits from Nigeria.
On August 29, the CBN sanctioned four banks with various fines totalling about N5.87bn for allegedly violating sections of the country’s foreign exchange regulations by facilitating the improper repatriation of profits from Nigeria on behalf of MTN Nigeria.
Part of the repatriated funds was, a few years later, brought back into the country by the banks, ostensibly on behalf of some MTN offshore investors in the form of shareholders’ loans and equipment.
The four banks – Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank and Diamond Bank, were accused of “flagrant violation of extant laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006.”
However, MTN was directed by CBN to carry out a reversal of the transaction and return the entire $8.1bn to Nigeria and follow the due process of repatriation of the funds.
But, on August 30, MTN rejected the directive in a statement, insisting it was not guilty of any wrongdoing. On September 10, MTN filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos against the CBN to contest the sanction.
Hearing in the case was adjourned to December 4.
At the resumed sitting on Tuesday, legal counsel to MTN Nigeria, Wole Olanipekun, a senior advocate of Nigeria, who appeared alongside four other senior lawyers, informed the court presided by Justice Saliu Saidu, both parties were engaging each other in “out-of-court settlement talks.”
Counsel to CBN, Seyi Sowemimo, confirmed the agreement, along with T. D. Agbe, a Senior State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, who represented the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.
“We have advanced towards out-of-court settlement. What remains is to ‘cross the t’s and dot the i’s’. It is just to present a report of settlement,” Mr Sowemimo told the court.
Based on the agreement by both parties, Justice Saidu adjourned the case until December 12 for the presentation of a report of settlement.