$8.1bn dispute:  Hope rises for MTN, Diamond Bank, others

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Four banks sanctioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria for allegedly transferring $8.1bn illegally out of the country for telecom giant, MTN, may have the sanctions reviewed following the decision of the CBN to meet with them today, 9th of October.

Recall that the apex bank fined four banks, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Stanbic IBTC and Diamond Bank, a total of ₦5.86 billion for breaching Nigeria’s extant laws and forex rules when they facilitated illegal repatriation of funds to South Africa on behalf of MTN.

National Daily gathered that meeting, called by the governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, is to find an amicable solution to the dispute.

The apex bank is calling for the meeting after it said that it has received more documentation over the issue, which is why it is now seeking to review the refund in line with the new information.

The crisis had started when Senator Dino Melaye proposed a motion before the Senate in 2016, alleging that MTN Telecommunications Nigeria Limited illegally repatriated about $14 billion to South Africa between 2006 and 2016.

His petition also implicated the above-mentioned banks and even alleged that Nigeria’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, played a huge role in facilitating the infraction.

Although the matter was initially investigated following the petition, the Senate in July 2017 temporarily absolved MTN of any wrongdoing. It ordered for more investigation into the matter after it blamed the CBN for supposedly failing to properly regulate Nigeria’s Forex.

The Senate later directed the apex bank to sanction only Stanbic IBTC Bank over what it said was “improper documentation in respect to capital repatriation and loan repayments” on MTN’s behalf.

The MTN issue has become a talking point at all investment road shows where Nigeria is present and it has become a major distraction in the country’s quest to attract foreign direct investment into the country.

The possible fine reduction of MTN seems to have influenced investors’ sentiments as the share price of the telco-giant went up by 2.6 percent on Monday. The shares were traded at ZAR 8,380 on Friday but it appreciated with a 2.6 percent with unit price of ZAR 8,600 yesterday.

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