MTN says Nigeria’s fund repatriation law not practicable

MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, has said the reason his company moved out $13.8 billion without getting the Certificate of Capital Importation was 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 a statement on Friday from Johannesburg, 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.”

At the opening of investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, into the transfer, MTN said that circumstances beyond its control necessitated its decision to move funds without following the law.

Kogi Sen. Dono Melaye on September 27 accused MTN of dodging the Nigerian financial regulatory laws to obtain a CCI within 24 hours before moving the fund out of Nigeria.

According to Melaye, the repatriation was carried out between 2006 and 2016 in connivance with the Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, and four commercial banks, namely Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citi Bank.

The CCI is a requirement under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) financial and miscellaneous provisions Act.

But the telecoms giant said 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.

He said 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.