Shittu. Picture taken by REUTERS/PAUL CARSTEN
during the interview
Nigeria, Adebayo Shittu said, Nigeria
must not scare away MTN, as legislators investigates investigate claims of
illegal money transfers three months after the Africa’s biggest telecoms group
was fined more than $1bn.
statement on the newest MTN investigation, signifying that the government does
not want to see the South
African group penalised unduly in Nigeria, its
biggest market if the latest allegations prove true.
not important to Nigeria — we must encourage them, we must not scare them away
Nigeria, threatened to pull out of the Nigeria last year over the issue of unregistered
SIM cards before the government settled to reduce a fine on the issue by almost
70% to $1bn.
investigation by Nigeria’s upper house of parliament finds MTN Group guilty on illegally
transferred of $13.9bn from Nigeria starting from 2006 to 2016.
innocent, and we pray they remain innocent, and they must stay.”
fined $5.2bn in 2015 (equivalent to more than two years of its Nigerian profits)
for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards. The fine was reduced last
June to 330-billion naira ($1.1bn).
of the allegation of illegal money
transfers 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,
and so the transfer of such returns on those investments was illegal.
as it is legitimately done,” Shittu said. At any time MTN is suspected of
breaking the law, it would be investigated, but allegations “against them
must be established beyond reasonable doubt. Everyone who is in business will
have ups and downs. You don’t throw away
the baby with the bathwater.“
regulators and did not fall within his “constitutional
responsibility”. The government, however, can influence the size of the
penalty, as with the SIM card issue.
and launching two new satellites using a $550m loan from the Export-Import Bank
of China, which would shelter 85% of the cost. Nigeria would finance the other
15%. Shittu encouraged domestic and foreign investors to take part in funding.