The court hearing between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and MTN over the alleged repatriation of funds amounting to $8.1 billion has ended in an adjournment.
Sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Justice Saliu Saidu, after hearing submissions from lawyers on both sides, adjourned the matter till December 4, 2018, for hearing on all pending applications.
At the adjourned hearing in December, MTN will make its case to stop the CBN asking for the return of $8.1 billion to Nigeria. Specifically, court documents show that MTN will draw attention to a 2016 Senate investigation into alleged foreign exchange violations where the CBN, in sworn testimony, said that the company was not in breach of any provision of the law with respect to the contested Certificates of Capital Importation.
Africa’s biggest mobile operator, which makes about a third of its annual core profit in Nigeria, says the allegations are without merit but added that no further negative steps have been taken by authorities in Nigeria.
The CBN on August 29 ordered the firm and four of its lenders to bring $8.1 billion back into Nigeria that it alleges the company sent abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations. MTN also faces a separate $2 billion tax demand from the Attorney General’s office.
MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said on Monday that MTN will keep engaging with Nigerian authorities to resolve a $10.1 billion dispute, but is putting its faith in the courts to protect itself. In a statement, in addition, lead counsel to MTN, Wole Olanipekun, SAN said the company “trusts that the Nigerian judicial process will reach the inevitable conclusion on this matter and justice will take its course.”
A separate hearing between MTN and the Attorney General over the tax demand has been scheduled for November 8 at the same court.