The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is doing ‘everything in its power’ to find an ‘amicable solution’ to the MTN crisis, its CEO said on Tuesday afternoon.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Auditor General (NAG) are demanding $8.1bn and $2bn respectively from MTN over allegations of improper financial transactions.
NCC CEO Professor Umar Garba Danbatta said the organisation is in contact with MTN and “independent authorities” such as the CBN and NAG.
“I think the kind of intervention we are going to do is to make a very convincing case before government - a strong and convincing case on the need to sit and down and amicably resolve this matter with MTN,” Danbatta told reporters at a press briefing at the ITU Telecom World conference in Durban.
“I don’t want to give details, because I don’t have them.”
Danbatta said MTN's stability in Nigeria is crucial to ensure that cellular services to its 53 million subscribers are not disrupted.
He reiterated that CBN and NAG are independent authorities in Nigeria and that the NCC, which regulates telecommunications in Nigeria, has no influence over the work of the two entities.
“We don’t want to be seen interfering or undermining the regulatory powers of the CNB,” Danbatta said.
The CBN alleged that MTN used improperly issued certificates to convert shareholder loans in its Nigerian unit to preference shares in 2007.
As a result, $8.1 billion in dividends paid by MTN Nigeria to its parent between 2007 and 2015 should be returned, the central bank said.
Separately, NAG said MTN Nigeria should have paid approximately $2 billion in taxes relating to imports of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers.
MTN CEO Rob Shuter said MTN has no intention to withdraw from the Nigerian market.
Nigeria is MTN’s largest subscriber base.
“We did have some challenges these past few weeks, but we believe we will be able to make our case," Shuter told reporters at the ITU Telecom World conference on Monday.
"I’m sure we will move past that as soon as we can."
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