NewsMTN ‘Admits’ To Moving Funds Without Compliance

MTN ‘Admits’ To Moving Funds Without Compliance

SAN FRANCISCO, October 20, (THEWILL) – Telecoms Company, MTN Nigeria has told the Senate Committee on Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, that circumstances compelled it to move funds from the country without observing the law.

THEWILL recalls that the Senate, had on September 27, 2016, alleged that MTN in connivance with the Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, and four commercial banks exploited the Nigerian financial system to move the money out of the country without the required authorisation through four banks: Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citi Bank.

At the commencement of investigative hearing into the alleged illegal repatriation of $13.9 billion out of the country by MTN, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN, Fedi Moolman, admitted that the company moved funds without complying with the 24-hour order for the issuance of CCI, saying it was practically impossible to do so.

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He explained that the action was taken without any deliberate intention to flout Nigerian laws but was rather compelled to do so because of prevailing circumstances.

“There was no intention to flout the rule and regulation. The 24-hour rule is not in all cases practicable and it is almost impossible to comply with,” he said.

However, Pascal Dozie, Chairman of Diamond Bank, denied the allegation of illegal repatriation by MTN, arguing that MTN had invested $16 billion in Nigeria within 16 years insisting that the allegation by the Senate was completely false.

He was however confronted by Senator Dino Melaye with evidences showing that whereas CCI was supposed to have been issued within 24 hours before repatriation, such CCIs were not issued until five years later

“The law says CCI should be issued in 24 hours but CCIs were issued five years after. Is that not a contravention?” he queried.

Melaye also disclosed that he had information that whereas the Central Bank of Nigeria approved only 13 CCIs, Stanbic IBTC only had issued over 300 CCIs without containing the necessary information it ought to contain.

Responding, the CEO of Stanbic IBTC, Olayinka Sani, said his bank was ready to co-operate with the committee in its investigation adding that it had represented MTN in various capacities since the company opened an account with the bank.

In his defence, the Managing Director of Citibank, Akin Daodu, said the bank had never been involved in any illegal repatriation of funds as he disclosed that Citibank had issued 46 CCIs on behalf of MTN so far.

However, Melaye countered as he drew his attention to the document his bank had earlier submitted to the committee where it had stated that “MTN didn’t request for CCI’s to be issued until more than the 24 hours required to issue the CCIs.”

In her own submission, the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs. Yemi Owolabi, admitted that in most cases when they were contacted for issuance of CCIs by MTN, prevalent circumstances made such issuance impossible within the stipulated time frame which compelled the bank to contact the CBN to explain the difficult circumstances in which it found itself, pointing out that they only issued the documents after securing the go-ahead from the apex bank.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, has threatened to come down hard on Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, over his failure to participate in the investigative hearing saying the parliament would be forced to invoke its power to force him to appear before the committee and defend the allegations against him.

“We want you to advise him. For him to tell us that he couldn’t wait, I think he was being audacious against the Senate. We as senators expect him to engage the Senate in a more civilised way or else, we ‘ll be forced to invoke our powers,” Ibrahim threatened.

Enelamah has however denied the accusations saying he was never the ‘owner’ of Celtelecom, neither was he ever a Celtelecom shareholder and never in a position to transfer funds out of Nigeria on behalf of MTN Nigeria.

Story by Oputah David

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