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  • The Nigerian government is investigating possible exchange violations by MTN, Business Day reported on Friday.
  • At the time of the transactions, President Cyril Ramaphosa was still a shareholder in MTN Nigeria.
  • The Public Investment Corporation has bought the Ramaphosa stake in the meanwhile questions by Finance Uncovered and amaBhungane have shown – at a R1.8 billion loss.

A confidential audit report for the Nigerian government alleges that MTN's bankers broke that country's finance laws – and raises questions on whether MTN knew and benefitted, Business Day reported on Friday morning.

President Cyril Ramaphosa could now be drawn into the investigation, Business Day said, because he was the chairperson of MTN at the time the banks allegedly violated exchange controls – and an important MTN Nigeria shareholder for part of the period.

But it seems there may also be questions about how the government-owned Public Investment Corporation (PIC) lost R1.8 billion in government employee pension money when it bought Ramaphosa's stake.

Read the full Business Day article here (subscribers only): Nigerian bank investigation could embroil MTN, Ramaphosa

During the course of their enquiries it emerged that the PIC had bought Ramaphosa's one-time corporate vehicle Shanduka out of MTN Nigeria, investigative organisations Finance Uncovered and amaBhungane said.

The PIC later confirmed it had paid $230.993 million for the shares in a deal concluded in late March and early April 2015.

Ramaphosa finalised his divestment from Shanduka in May 2015, after he became deputy President and said he would isolate himself from his former businesses to avoid any conflicts of interest.

In October 2015 the Nigeria government imposed a massive fine on MTN for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers.

In the PIC's 2017 annual report it valued the MTN Nigeria shares at R996 million, a loss of 65% or some R1.8 billion.

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