$8.1bn Refund: MTN, Others Took Govt. for Granted – Finance Minister

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BY OBUTE JAMES

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed on Tuesday said big businesses operating in Nigeria take the Federal Government and stipulated regulations for granted,

Ahmed, who was responding to a question on the recent sanction that was imposed on MTN Nigeria Communications Limited by the Central Bank of Nigeria, stated that the telecommunications firm only provided what the CBN requested after the bank ordered it and some affected Deposit Money Banks to refund about $8.1bn.

The minster while speaking during a session at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja, also  said, “The MTN incident was a very damaging one for us and that was one of the reasons why we have been out trying to engage our investors. But you see there is a tendency for big businesses to take regulation and government for granted.

“Only after that incident happened, all of the information that the CBN had been trying to get for months actually came out. Now, I think they are up to a point where they have almost solved the problem.

“And this is information that the CBN governor had personally met with MTN, with the key banks involved and had asked them to provide the information,”

On August 30 this year, CBN imposed heavy fines totalling N5.87bn on four banks under its regulatory purview for alleged illegal funds repatriation.

It also directed the management of the banks and MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to immediately refund to the apex bank $8,134,312,397.63, which was said to have been illegally repatriated by the company.

The CBN had asked the banks and MTN to refund the money over what it described as ‘flagrant violation of extant laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006’.

The four banks that came under the sledge hammer of the CBN for the violations were Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank and Diamond Bank.

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