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$8.1bn infractions: Finally, MTN, CBN settle out of Court

A Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, on Thursday, entered as judgment the settlement terms in a suit by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited against the Federal Government. MTN had challenged the $8,134,312,397.63 demanded from it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over alleged forex remittance infractions. The telecoms giant asked the court to restrain the CBN and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) from imposing punitive sanctions against it. But, the CBN accused MTN Nigeria of improper dividend repatriations and demanded that $8.1 billion be returned “to the coffers of the CBN”. MTN’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) – Mr. Damian Dodo, Fabian Ajokwu and Adeniyi Adegbonmire, told Justice Saliu Saidu that parties have resolved the dispute amicably. He said terms of settlement were filed last December 28. CBN’s counsel, Mr. Henry Ejiofor, confirmed that parties have settled out of court. He urged the court to enter the terms of settlement as judgment. The AGF, represented Olanike Idenu, did not oppose the settlement proposal. He asked that his client’s name be struck out from the suit. Justice Saliu Saidu thanked parties for not wasting precious judicial time by going through the rigour of a trial. He adopted the terms of settlement as the judgment of court and struck out the AGF’s name from the suit. The Federal Government accused MTN of unpaid taxes on foreign payments and imports, asking it to pay approximately $2 billion in relation to the taxes. According to the CBN, MTN and four banks – Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Diamond Bank – deliberately flouted the “laws and regulations…including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006.” The banks allegedly colluded with MTN, using irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCI), to illegally remit foreign exchange abroad. The four banks were slammed a combined N5.87 billion fine. MTN had denied the allegations and subsequently filed the suit. Peter Fowoyo

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