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MTN suspends dividend pay to Nigeria amid illegal transfer allegations

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MTN has, on Monday, suspended dividend payouts from its Nigerian unit over allegations that it illegally moved almost $14 billion out of Nigeria.

Telecommunications giant, MTN has, on Monday, suspended dividend payouts to Nigeria.

 The suspension is coming on the heels of allegations that it illegally moved $13.92 billion out of the country.

The MTN management stated this in its quarterly update released on Monday, October 24.

It, however, continues to refute the allegations that it had improperly repatriated funds from Nigeria,

The Nigerian Senate, last month, approved the investigation of whether the telecoms company unlawfully repatriated $13.92 billion between 2006 and 2016.

The approval followed a motion mover by the Senator representing Kogi West at the upper chamber, Dino Melaye.

Senator Melaye had blown the whistle on MTN and others.

He also pledged to produce damning evidence linking a serving Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah to how the money was shipped out of the country.

Defending himself from the allegation, Mr. Enelamah‎ ‎has said that at no time did he transfer any funds out of Nigeria on behalf of MTN.

He stated that it is important to note that investors‎ did not have responsibility for the remittance of proceeds from the company they invested in.

Also indicted in the report is Mr. Pascal Dozie.

Mr. Dozie is the Co-Founder, Partner and Non-Executive Partner at African Capital Alliance and served as the Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank Plc.

In his own defence, Mr. Dozie who spoke on behalf of the Board of MTN Nigeria, denied the allegation of Capital flight by the company.

He said that he has never contemplated breaking any law and has never violated the law.

He explained that what MTN repatriated were dividends payments from legitimate transactions done in line with extant laws between through several transactions conducted between 2001 and 2006.

However, Chief Executive officer of ‎MTN, Ferdi Moolman admitted that Nigerian law was broken in allegation of the Capital flight of $13.9 billion by the company.

Moolman had appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial institution investigation.

He said‎ the CCI issued through the Central Bank of Nigeria and 4 others on behalf of MTN is five years old.

He explained to the committee that it was almost impossible for MTN to comply at all times with the rule which makes it compulsory for investors bringing in capital into the country to be issued Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) under 24 hours.

The crux of the allegation is that MTN did not obtain certificates declaring it had invested foreign currency in Nigeria within a 24-hour deadline stipulated in a 1995 law.

Therefore, the repatriation of returns on those investments was illegal.

It is the latest setback for MTN in its most lucrative but increasingly problematic market, coming months after it agreed to pay a reduced fine of 330 billion naira ($1.08 billion) to end a long-running dispute over unregistered SIM cards.

MTN has attracted controversy over its ventures in some frontier markets, with questions asked about its decision to enter war-ravaged countries such as Afghanistan and Iran.

Presently, it is expecting a new Group Chief Executive Officer, Rob Shuter, who will take over three months ahead of plan.

Shuter, Vodafone European boss, was due to start in July next year but MTN said in a statement accompanying its quarterly update he would now start on 13 March 2017.

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