The Central Bank of Nigria (CBN) plans to meet four lenders of telecoms company MTN to discuss a dispute over a $8.1 billion fund transfer, after a court adjourned the case, a banking source said.
According to monitored agency reports, the central bank emailed invitations Thursday to the Nigeria chief executive officers of MTN’s bankers in Nigeria, namely, Standard Chartered, Citibank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Diamond Bank, to attend a meeting on Friday
The apex bank has accused South Africa-based MTN of violating currency regulations by sending $8.1 billion abroad, and in August ordered the company and its banks to repatriate the funds. MTN and the banks involved have denied any wrongdoing and the banks want the central bank to refund them money charged to their accounts in the form of fines.
The central bank and the banks declined to comment on a potential meeting on Friday. A spokeswoman for MTN said she did not know of a meeting.
The source said the meeting would start at 1600 (1500 GMT) on Friday and focus on MTN’s fund transfer.
Last week, a Lagos court adjourned a hearing on the $8.1 billion dispute between MTN and the central bank until Dec. 4.
Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the central bank, has said he was optimistic the MTN issue could be resolved. Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, accounting for a third of the lender’s annual core profit, but has proved to be problematic in recent years.
In a separate case, MTN faces a $2 billion tax demand from Nigeria’s attorney general, a claim which the firm has said is without merit. The Lagos court on Thursday adjourned the case against the attorney general until Dec. 3.
Africa’s biggest telecoms firm has a market valuation of roughly $12 billion and the two disputes total $10.1 billion.
South Africa’s central bank said on Wednesday that the country’s financial stability was threatened by the demands made on MTN by Nigerian authorities.
Nigeria’s central bank fined Standard Chartered N2.4 billion ($7.8 million) over the fund transfer; Stanbic IBTC Bank N1.8 billion, Citibank N1.2 billion and Diamond Bank N250 million. (Rate used for conversion is $1 = N306.65).
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Frontpage September 10, 2018