Telecommunication firm, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, on Tuesday, asked the Federal High Court in Lagos for a further adjournment in the suit it filed to challenge the $8,134,312,397.63 being demanded from it by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
 
CBN had asked MTN to pay the sum of The $8.1bn for alleged forex remittances infraction.
 
When the case came up on Tuesday, MTN’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, informed the court that his client had approached the CBN for possible amicable resolution of the dispute.
 
Olanipekun, prayed Justice Saliu Saidu to further adjourn the suit to enable parties to fully explore out-of-court resolution and deliberate on the terms of the settlement.
 
Read also: Nigerian govt declares Discos as failures, five years after privatisation
 
Seyi Sowemimo, SAN, the lead counsel for CBN, confirmed Olanipekun’s position, adding that discussions for possible out-of-court settlement were in the advanced stage.
 
Justice Saidu adjourned till December 12, 2018, for a report of the settlement between the parties.
 
It would be recalled that MTN had filed the suit, marked FHC/L/CS/1475/2018, in November, urging the court to declare that the CBN acted ultra vires of its statutory powers when it wrote an August 28, 2018 letter to it demanding a refund of $8.1bn.
 
The firm urged the court to hold that the CBN’s $8.1bn demand was “illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.”
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Telecommunication company, MTN Nigeria, has sued the Nigerian government to the tune of N3 billion.
 
The firm, in the new suit, is challenging the legality of N242 billion and $1.3 billion import duties and withholding tax demanded from it by the Nigerian government.
 
The embattled company, in the suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos, is demanding the N3 billion for general and exemplary damages and legal costs from the defendant.
 
A judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke, on Thursday, adjourned the suit until December 3 for hearing after counsel confirmed that motions have been filed and served on parties.
 
In the suit filed on September 10, the telecom firm is contending that the purported “revenue assets investigation” allegedly carried out by the Nigerian government for the period of 2007 to 2017 violates the Nigerian constitution.
 
Also, the telecom firm is claiming that the government’s decision conveyed through the Office of the AGF by an August 20 letter, violates the provisions of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
 
The firm is seeking a declaration that the AGF acted in excess of its powers by purporting to direct through its letter of May 10 a “self-assessment exercise” which usurps the powers of the Nigerian Customs Service to demand payment of import duties on importation of physical goods.
 
It is also seeking a declaration that the AGF acted illegally by usurping the powers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to audit and demand remittance of withholding and value added taxes.
 
According to the suit, the telecom firm prayed for a declaration that the AGF’s demand of the sums is premised on a process that is malicious, unreasonable and made on incorrect legal basis.
 
The Central Bank of Nigeria had been at loggerheads with the telecom firm following sanctions over alleged illegal repatriation of funds. The CBN accused MTN Nigeria of improper dividend repatriations and demanded that $8.1 billion be returned “to the coffers of the CBN”.
 
Abubakar Mallami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, in a separate move, also slammed a tax bill on the firm, wherein he accused MTN of unpaid taxes on foreign payments and imports, asking it to pay approximately $2billion in relation to the taxes.
 
According to the CBN, MTN and four banks flouted the “laws and regulations…including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006.”
 
The four banks––Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Diamond Bank – were subsequently debited. They all denied wrongdoing.
 
Hearing of the new suit has been scheduled for December 3.
 
 
Source: Premium Times

The disputes between MTN Nigeria and Nigerian authorities over $10 billion in repatriated funds and back taxes could increase risk in South Africa’s financial system depending on the outcome, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has said.

MTN Nigeria, a subsidiary of a South Africa-based telecommunication giant, MTN Group, is facing severe pressure from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to return $8.1 billion it repatriated from Nigeria through illegal means.

Also, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) also demanded a sum of $2 billion in tax arrears from the South African firm, bringing the total claim by the federal government to $10.1 billion.

“The immediate, or at least near-term, repatriation of the funds to the Nigerian authorities could affect MTN Group’s ability to continue meeting its debt obligations, including those in the South African banking sector, which, given the interconnected nature of the financial system, could increase systemic risk,” the South African apex bank said in its Financial Stability Review released Wednesday in the capital, Pretoria.

The claims amount to almost all of MTN’s market value of about $12 billion, SARB stated further.

A “potential worst-case scenario” would be for MTN to pull out of Nigeria, which would increase the company’s exposure level to reputational risk, the Reserve Bank said.

On August 29, the CBN directed MTN to refund $8.1 billion shareholders’ funds it allegedly repatriated from the country through illegal means, while it imposed a combined fine of N5.87 billion on four banks – Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc – that allegedly aided the process.

In early September, the teleco, which has Nigeria as its largest market, sought a court injunction restraining CBN from demanding that the amount should be refunded in order to buy itself time and fight the claim which wiped as much as 18 percent off its market value within two weeks.

”In order to protect MTN Nigeria’s assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law, we have applied today in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders,” the telecom firm said in a statement.

In separate legal documents, the CBN asked the court to deny MTN’s request and said the telecommunication firm should pay 15 percent annualised interest on the sum until the court make a judgment and 10 percent from then until the whole amount is paid.

Last week Tuesday, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos adjourned hearing in the case between MTN and the AGF over the alleged $2 billion unpaid tax bill till today, Thursday, November 8, while the court adjourned till December 4 to hear the case between the telco and CBN.

 

Source: The Punch

HSBC and UBS have closed their offices in Nigeria, the country’s central bank said in a report on Friday as it revealed foreign investment had fallen sharply from a year ago.

The bank said foreign direct investment in Nigeria fell to 379.84 billion naira ($1.2 billion) in the first half of the year from 532.63 billion naira ($1.7 billion) a year earlier.

It did not given reasons for the bank closures.

HSBC was not available to comment and UBS declined to comment.

The central bank said the outlook for the Nigerian economy in the second half was “optimistic” given higher oil prices and production but rising foreign debt and uncertainty surrounding the 2019 presidential election was a drawback.

Investor confidence in the West African country has been shaken since the central bank in August ordered MTN to bring back $8.1 billion to the country, part of profits which the South African telecoms firm sent abroad.

An HSBC research note dated July 18 said a second Buhari term “raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration, prolonging the stagnation of his first term, particularly if there is no move towards completing reform of the exchange rate system or fiscal adjustments that diversify government revenues away from oil.”

The Nigerian Presidency has reacted furiously after British multinational banks report. In a statement, the Presidency accused the bank of thriving on "grand corruption" and helping past and present Nigerian leaders launder billions of naira.

LOAN LOSSES

The central bank also said three lenders failed to meet its minimum liquidity ratio of 30 percent, without naming them.

It added that non-performing loans (NPLs) have dropped to 12.4 percent as at June 2018 from 15 percent a year ago, still a long way above its 5 percent threshold.

“To further consolidate on the improvement, the Central Bank of Nigeria directed banks to intensify efforts at debt recovery, realisation of collateral for lost facilities and strengthening their risk management processes,” it said in the report.

In September, the regulator withdrew the license of Skye Bank for failing to recapitalise. It then transferred Skye’s assets to a “bridge bank” Polaris wholly-owned by the state-backed asset management company AMCON.

Nigerian banks have been trying to raise fresh capital after huge loan losses worsened by an economy that has just emerged from a recession. Diamond Bank last week denied it was in talks with investors to raise cash but said it was managing its capital, which borders on the regulatory minimum, to grow.

Another lender Unity Bank has been seeking to raise fresh funds to recapitalise.

 

Credit - Reuters

The envoys of the United States of America (US) and United Kingdom (UK) in Nigeria have said that the dispute between the country’s leading telecommunication firm, MTN, and the government was frightening investors from their countries into Nigeria.
 
Both envoys spoke in Lagos on Thursday on the sideline of the 2018 International Investment Conference organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry as part of activities marking the 2018 Lagos International Trade Fair.
 
On August 29, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed MTN to refund $8.1 billion shareholders’ funds it repatriated from the country through illegal means, while it imposed a combined fine of N5.87 billion on four banks – Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc – that allegedly aided the process.
 
Two weeks later, the telco was indicted by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), demanding for another $2 billion tax default, bringing the total claim by the federal government from MTN to $10.1 billion.
 
Reacting, Consul General, US High Commission, John Bray, said the issues facing the South African MTN was sending a wrong signal to investors that existing rules could be changed.
 
“Apparently things are being resolved, but once you make an announcement like that (order to repatriate the funds), there are probably guys sitting back there and waiting to get on the plane and fly back to the JFK and say, I am not investing again,” he said.
 
Bray noted that US business owners had continued to invest in Nigeria with last year’s investment totalling $13.5 billion.
 
“So, we just want to get more investors here and part of that is improving the regulatory environment, improving infrastructure and dampening their fears about insecurity,” he added.
 
Also speaking, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, said the MTN saga was as damaging for the country, adding that investors were always conscious of such signals.
 
“Of course, investors are interested in regulations, policies and strategies, but ultimately, they look at signals like that and I think that was damaging. I think most people in Nigeria recognise that that was very damaging.
 
“There is a lot that is being done to address that and we are aware of that but sadly, investors also go beyond the headlines of such stories and my key point today is that we have to avoid such rash decisions at all cost in the interest of further investments that are absolutely essential to the economic development of the country, to job creation and to the vision that we all have of an incredibly rich and vibrant Nigeria.
 
“Our team is increasing. When the Prime Minister was here; she set up a new economic development forum with the President to discuss how we can grow from strength to strength and further increase our bilateral cooperation.
 
“She committed to the UK becoming the first G7 investor in Africa by 2022. She also said that our development finance institute, the CDC, will be investing a further £3.5 billion in Africa in the next few years, and a lot of that should come to Nigeria.
 
“There is huge amount of interest in Nigeria. We are already the first investor in Nigeria and we want to continue to build on that; but what we are saying is what investors are looking at is predictability in decision making and application of regulations and policies; and so, they are looking at ensuring that the rule of law systematically applies and they are watching keenly to see what happens in Nigeria going forward,” Beaufils said.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed December 4, 2018 for hearing in the suit filed by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to challenge the $8,134,312,397.63 being demanded from the telecom firm by the Central Bank of Nigeria over alleged foreign exchange remittance infractions.
 
At Tuesday proceedings in the case, MTN was represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led 14 other lawyers, including Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), Mr Damian Dodo (SAN), Mr Adeniyi Adegbonmire (SAN) and Mr Bode Olanipekun (SAN).
 
On the CBN legal team were Messrs Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and Ademola Akerele (SAN).
 
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), who was joined as the 2nd defendant in the suit, was absent and was not represented in court.
 
While adjourning the suit till December 4 for the hearing of all pending applications, Justice Saliu Saidu directed that hearing notice should be served on the AGF.
 
In the suit marked: FHC/L/CS/1475/2018, MTN is seeking a court declaration that it is “not liable to refund $8,134,312,397.63 to the coffers of the 1st defendant (CBN) premised on the decisions reached in the 1st defendant’s letter of 28/8/2018.”
 
The telecommunications giant is urging the court to declare that that “the 1st defendant’s decision in its letter of August 28, 2018 with Ref. No. GBD/GOV/COM/DGF/118/121 addressed to the plaintiff and titled, ‘Investigation into the remittance of foreign exchange on the basis of the illegal capital importation certificates issued to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited’ was reached in breach of the plaintiff’s right to fair hearing.”
 
The firm wants Justice Saidu to hold that the CBN “lacks the power to determine the civil obligations or penal liabilities of the plaintiff.”
 
It is urging the court to declare that the CBN acted ultra vires its statutory powers when it wrote the August 28 letter to it demanding a refund of $8.1bn.
 
The firm wants the court to hold that the $8.1bn demand is illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.
 
It also wants the court to void the September 3, 2018 letter written to it by the AGF demanding $8.1bn as penalty for the offence of “infraction of forex remittances.”
 
MTN is seeking a court order restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants from giving effect to the decisions, demands and directives in their letters of August 28,2018 and September 3, 2018, respectively.
 
However, the CBN, in its statement of defence and counter-claim, urged the judge to dismiss MTN’s suit, insisting that the telecommunications giant must refund $8.1bn to the Federal Government.
 
The Attorney General of the Federation on his part has yet to file any defence.
 
The dispute over $8.1bn repatriated funds started when the CBN alleged that MTN used improperly issued certificates of capital importation to transfer funds out of Nigeria after the telecom giant converted shareholders’ loans in its Nigerian unit to preference shares in 2007, but MTN denied the allegations.
 
The apex bank said MTN’s banks failed to verify that it had met all the country’s foreign exchange regulations.
 
 
Source: The Punch

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fine on MTN Nigeria is very damaging to the country, Zainab Ahmed, finance minister has said.

This came as the telco confirmed it was continuing to hold talks with Nigerian officials to find a mutually acceptable solution to a dispute over the alleged transfer of $8.1 billion of funds. Ahmed, speaking at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Tuesday, said the CBN and MTN are working together towards resolving the matter.

The CBN handed MTN a fine of $10b alongside some banks for allegedly issuing irregular certificates of capital importation (CCIs). 

“The MTN incident was a very damaging one for us, that was one of the reasons why we have been out trying to engage investors,” Ahmed said.

“But you see, there is a tendency for big business to take regulations and governments for granted.

“After that incident happened, all the information the CBN has been trying to get in two months actually came. Now, they have almost solved the problem.”

According to her, “We are trying to make sure this doesn’t happen again, we are continuously discussing with monetary authorities.

“There will be no company next after MTN, nobody is next because we can’t afford for this kind of incidence to keep happening.”

Elsewhere, MTN said this week that it was continuing to hold talks with Nigerian officials to find a mutually acceptable solution to a dispute over the alleged transfer of $8.1 billion of funds.

“Shareholders are advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made,” MTN said in a statement on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where its shares are listed.

 

Source: Comms Week

A hearing in the court case between MTN and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a disagreement over the alleged repatriation of $8.1 billion by the telecommunication company has been set for October 30, MTN’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, has said.

Olanipekun said it on Friday that MTN denied claims that it depleted Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves.

Recall that CBN had in late August alleged that MTN repatriated a total of $8.1 billion from the country through illegal means.

The financial regulator further directed the telco to refund the money and imposed a combined fine of N5.87 billion on four banks – Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc – that allegedly aided the process.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market and accounts for a third of its annual core profit. This explains why the claim which led to the dispute between the two parties wiped as much as 36 percent off MTN’s market value within two weeks.

The CBN had said in its counterclaim to the court that MTN contributed to depleting the country’s reserves through the purchase of dollars via unapproved certificates. MTN however denied any wrongdoing.

Crude oil is Nigeria main source of foreign exchange earnings, the nation’s external reserves was greatly depleted in 2016 following the drop of crude oil prices in the international market.

This contributed to the sharp drop in the value of Naira and further led the country’s economy to a recession in the same year, which the country emerged from last year.

 

Source: The Router

MTN Group Ltd. and its bankers have provided more documents that may reduce Nigeria’s $8.1 billion claim on the South African wireless carrier, which could be resolved soon, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said.

The central bank alleged in late August that MTN and four banks -- Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc -- illegally repatriated money from Nigeria and that the company should return $8.1 billion. The local regulator also fined the four banks a combined $16 million.

Speaking to reporters in London on Sunday, Emefiele said he expected that the new information would help cut the size of the claim and that the matter would be resolved “amicably.”

“I don’t think it will be at $8.1 billion having provided documents,” Emefiele said, adding his staff is studying the documents and he hoped to make a decision on the matter in a “couple of weeks.”

MTN sought an injunction in early September to buy itself time and fight the claim in its biggest market, which wiped as much as 36 percent off its market value within two weeks.

‘Amicable’ Resolution
The central bank has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to deny MTN’s request and said the company should pay an annualized 15 percent interest on the dividends until the matter is ruled upon, and then 10 percent until the whole sum is paid, according to legal documents filed by the regulator.

“They will see they have been given a fair hearing,’’ Emefiele said. “More information has been provided and I’m very optimistic that matters are going to be resolved amicably.’’

Emefiele said the clash with MTN had taken a “global dimension” that it didn’t need to and that he was keen to demonstrate to international investors how open the Nigerian market is, calling the MTN matter “isolated’’ and no reason “for anyone to lose any sleep.’’

“This is not a matter that should have blown so openly,’’ he said. “Nigeria is a country that happens to be very, very open.’’

MTN Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said earlier this month the spat in Nigeria may cause the carrier to reconsider raising cash through an initial public offering of its local unit in Lagos. Instead, MTN may list the business by way of introduction, which places existing securities on the exchange.

 

- Bloomberg

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to deny MTN Group an injunction that would stop the telecommunication company from transferring $8.1 billion back to Nigeria, even as it seeks to charge the firm 15 percent interest on the sum.
 
The CBN had in late August alleged that MTN repatriated a total of $8.1 billion from the country through illegal means. It directed the telco to refund the money and imposed a fine of N5.87 billion on four banks – Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc – that allegedly aided the process.
 
The apex bank, in a statement last month, said it was reviewing new information provided by MTN and the four banks with a view to arriving at an “equitable resolution.”
 
This came after the telco dragged the CBN and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to court seeking an order restraining both parties from demanding the $8.1 billion and another $2 billion in tax arrears.
 
But in documents filed with the Federal High Court in Lagos by the CBN and seen by Bloomberg on Thursday, the financial regulator argued that MTN should pay 15 percent annualised interest on the sum until the courts make a judgment, and 10 percent from then until the whole amount is paid.
 
The transfers “may have been premeditated and contrived as a scam to make and maximize profits, defraud the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to enjoy unlimited foreign-exchange income perpetually from a single investment without complying with the foreign-exchange laws and regulations of Nigeria,” the CBN said in the documents.
 
With the court fillings, it appears the CBN is not prepared to back down over its allegations on the telco even as CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said after a monetary policy committee meeting last week that the dispute would soon be resolved and that “everyone will be happy.”
 
MTN’s shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) had plunged to the lowest level in nine years over the $10.1 billion claims. The shares further dropped for the first time in five days on Thursday by 2.5 percent to close at 87.30 rand, extending their fall since CBN made its accusations to 19 percent.
 
Ripples Nigeria reports that MTN’s Chief Financial Officer, Ralph Mupita, said the company may no longer seek to raise capital to finance its operations through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) due to the crisis.
 
IPO is the offering of stock to the public – stock market – for the first time by a private company planning to raise investment capital.
 
Mupita had however said the company would rather consider other options of trading its shares on Nigeria’s stock market, including listing by introduction in which existing shares are listed.
 
The listing of the business on NSE was part of the settlement for a $5.2 billion (N1 trillion) fine placed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for violating SIM card registration regulations in 2015 which it later negotiated down to about $1 billion.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
 
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