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CBN, MTN near deal over $8.1bn fund transfer

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MTN Group Limited is close to securing a deal with the Central Bank of Nigeria over an order to repay $ 8 . 1 bn it is alleged to have illegally taken out of the country , according to a person familiar with the matter.
Bloomberg reported that a settlement might be sealed by Monday and could come as early as Friday, said the person , who asked not to be identified because they’ re not authorised to comment publicly .

The CBN is set to meet four lenders of MTN Nigeria to discuss a dispute over an $ 8 . 1 bn fund transfer , a banking source told Reuters .

It was gathered that the CBN emailed invitations on Thursday to the Nigeria Heads of Standard Chartered , Citibank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Diamond Bank , to attend a meeting on Friday, the source added .

The central bank and the banks declined to comment on a potential meeting on Friday while a spokeswoman for MTN said she did not know of a meeting .

The source said the meeting would start at 4 pm on Friday and focus on MTN ’ s fund transfer .

The CBN in late August had alleged that MTN and four of its banks – Standard Chartered Plc , Citigroup Inc. , Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc – illegally repatriated $ 8 . 1 bn from Nigeria while the office of the Attorney General of the Federation claimed the company failed to remit $ 2 bn back taxes .

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The CBN also imposed a total fine of N 5 . 87 bn on the four banks for allegedly remitting dividends with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation on behalf of MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015 .

Meanwhile , MTN Nigeria Communication Limited has sued the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice , Mr Abubakar Malami ( SAN ) , before the Federal High Court in Lagos , demanding N 3 bn as general and exemplary damages .

The telecoms firm is challenging the August 20 , 2018 letter written to it by the AGF , demanding N 242 bn and $ 1 . 3 bn as import duties , withholding and value added taxes .

The firm , in the suit filed through its lawyer , Chief Wole Olanipekun ( SAN ) , described the AGF ’ s N 242 bn and $ 1 . 3 bn demand from it as “ malicious , unreasonable and one made on an incorrect legal basis. ”

MTN contended that in writing the demand letter to it , the AGF acted beyond his powers and violated the provisions of Section 36 of the constitution on fair hearing with “ the purported revenue assets investigation ” he carried out on the firm ’ s activities covering 2007 to 2017 .

MTN , through Olanipekun , is urging the court to declare that the AGF acted illegally by “ usurping the powers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service , to audit and demand remittance of withholding tax and value – added tax . ”

READ ALSO  Illegal funds repatriation: CBN fines four banks N5.8bn, orders lenders, MTN to refund $8.1bn

The firm also wants the court to declare that with the “ self- assessment exercise , ” the AGF usurped the powers of the Nigerian Customs Service to demand payment of import duties on the importation of goods .

It wants the court to declare that “ the purported self – assessment ” conducted by the AGF was “ unknown to the law , null and void and of no effect whatsoever ” .

But the AGF has filed a preliminary objection , urging the court to dismiss MTN ’ s suit .

The AGF , through his lawyer , Mr T . A . Gazali , argued that MTN ’ s suit was incompetent , having not been filed within three months of the complaint.

Gazali argued that MTN ’ s suit breached the provisions of Section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act , “ which provides that any action commenced against a public officer must be made within three months from the commencement of a cause of action . ”

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