MTN, the largest mobile network provider in Nigeria and the whole of Africa, is facing a fresh set of troubles in Nigeria after recently settling a fine levied against it by the Nigerian communications regulators over unregistered SIM cards.
The current MTN troubles arose from allegations leveled against the company by Nigerian lawmaker Dino Melaye who brought the matter to the country’s senate on Sept. 27, according to Bloomberg.
The reports by Bloomberg and Nigerian newspaper Premium Times said that the Nigerian lawmaker had accused MTN of moving money out of Nigeria since 2006 to avoid paying tax.
Last year, Nigeria’s Premium Times published an 11-month investigation which basically alleged that in 2013, MTN had shifted more than 11.4 billion naira ($36,206,300) from its Nigeria subsidiary to its company in Dubai. A similar-sized transfer had been allegedly moved from MTN Ghana to MTN Dubai.
Again last year, amaBhungane, a South African investigative journalism team, uncovered that MTN was involved in shifting millions of dollars from its subsidiaries in Nigeria, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to Dubai and Mauritius, also to avoid tax obligations. So the current MTN troubles may go beyond Nigeria.
Lawmakers in the Senate are now alleging that MTN has illegally moved $14 billion out of Nigeria in a bid to avoid paying tax on the money. Senator Dino Melaye, who brought the original allegation, added that four banks helped MTN move the money.
The banks implicated in the matter are; Citigroup, Standard Chartered, and Nigerian lenders Stanbic IBTC Holdings and Diamond Bank. The Senate has already confirmed in a tweet that it would be investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman said in a statement on Sept. 28 that; “The allegations made against MTN are completely unfounded and without any merit.” Despite the denial, Bloomberg reported that MTN’s share price dropped by 3.4% the previous day.
The implicated banks were also approached by media houses and while Citigroup declined to comment, an email from Standard Chartered to Quartz showed the bank’s readiness to cooperate with any queries from regulators, but the bank would not give any further comment.
The current MTN troubles come just a few months after the company settled the $1.7 billion fine levied by the Nigerian Communications Commission.