By Dipo Olowookere
South Africa telecommunications firm, MTN, has explained on Friday why it failed to comply with the law concerning its alleged repatriation of $13.8 billion from Nigeria to its home country.
This comes as investigation by the Senate Committee on Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions begins.
MTN noted that it did not complete the Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) requirement within 24 hours of conversion because it thought it was a mere administrative requirement.
The CCI is a requirement under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) financial and miscellaneous provisions Act for the transfer of money.
But according to the telecoms giant, there were circumstances beyond its control, which necessitated its decision to move funds without following the law.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN Nigeria, Mr Ferdi Moolman, in a statement on Friday, argued that it was practically impossible for the company to comply with the 24 hours required to issue the CCI before moving funds.
“The requirement to issue a CCI within 24 hours of conversion is an administrative requirement,” Mr Moolman said in the statement issued from South Africa.
“As such, the CBN has the authority, and indeed we believe approved the banks’ applications to issue CCIs outside the recommended time frame,” he said further.
“Often, for various reasons (such as not having all the required documentation for instance), it is not possible to issue a CCI within 24 hours, and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Forex Manual contemplates such situations by asking that the banks refer to the CBN for approval,” Mr Moolman added.
He noted that no dividends were declared or paid until the CCIs were issued and finalised, adding MTN Nigeria only requested for CCIs for Foreign Capital that was imported into Nigeria, and dividends were externalised on CCIs.
On September 27, 2016, Senator Dino Melaye had accused MTN of illegally transferring money from Nigeria to South Africa without following due process. He said the alleged illegal act was carried out between 2006 and 2016 in connivance with the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, and four commercial banks, namely Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citi Bank.
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