MTN Nigeria Monday sued the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF over allegations of improper repatriation of about $8.1billion and unpaid taxes of $2.0 billion the duo levied against it.
The telco is seeking injunction to restrain them from taking further action in respect of their orders to reclaim the alleged debts.
CBN had, last week, alleged improper dividend repatriations by MTN Nigeria and requested that $8.1 billion be returned to the coffers of the CBN. In the other hand, the AGF had also alleged that MTN did not pay taxes on foreign payments and imports of approximately $2.0 billion and subsequently requested the telco to make the payments within 14 working days.
However, MTN had categorically denied all allegations, saying it has always complied with and carried out all its taxes and financial obligations to the Nigerian government, dutifully
The telecommunications company told Vanguard that apart from the need to protect its assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law, one of the major reasons it went to court was the ambiguity of the claims and the inconsistency in the positions of the two authorities making the claims.
MTN argues that it is confusing when CBN is pressurising it to refund $8.1billion when four commercial banks were issued fines in respect of the administration of the CCI and irregular dividend repatriation and requested to return, in aggregate, the same $8.1 billion.
It also said the two authorities were not clear on where and through whom the money should be paid, were it necessary to be paid as the CBN and AGF directives were in conflict with each other.
Corporate Relations Executive of MTN Nigeria Mr Tobe Okigbo said: “The allegations being made involve issues that appear to be complex and so 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 un-coordinated and at cross purposes.
The Attorney General while communicating us has directed that the payment of the $8.1 billion is dealt with through his office rather than as directed by the CBN.
“The simple reality is that MTN Nigeria has never repatriated dividends on the CCIs 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.”
“So 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, while we continue to engage with the relevant authorities on these matters.
MTN said it will continue to categorically and unequivocally deny all charges related to the CBN and AGF investigations into the company’s CCIs and unpaid taxes respectively, while it remained fully committed to Nigeria.