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MTN, four banks will be punished, CBN insists

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has insisted that MTN Nigeria and the four sanctioned over illegal banks repatriation of funds will be punished, Daily…

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has insisted that MTN Nigeria and the four sanctioned over illegal banks repatriation of funds will be punished, Daily Trust learnt in Abuja yesterday.

MTN, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citi Bank and Diamond Bank were asked to refund $ 8.1billion last Wednesday by the CBN for allegedly involved in repatriation of funds without due process. This is in addition of N5.87bn fines slammed on the four banks.

However, there were reports yesterday that the telecom company and the four banks might have got a soft landing or may soon get a soft landing from the apex bank.

But some top officials of the bank confided in our reporters in separate chats yesterday that the regulator has not shifted its ground on the issue.

One of the officials said the CBN wouldn’t have gone public with the issue if it would not carry out the punishment.

“All I can tell you is that we have not shifted a bit, at least for now’’, an official, who pleaded anonymity because he has not been cleared to speak to the media, said.

Another top official said it would take a directive from the presidency for the apex bank to shift ground or reduce the fine.

“Well that may come tomorrow, but as of today, I personally have not seen the memo or heard about it’’, he told one of our reporters.

Another CBN source said: “MTN was not fined, if they bring in the funds, they will simply get a refund, this should be clear.

“But we suspect that they would explore diplomatic channels to resolve this one, as we saw the last time from another government agency. I am not preview to how much has happened since that letter.”

Meanwhile CBN documents seen by one of our reporters showed that the apex bank met with all the parties involved in the deal and established culpability before it slammed on them the fines.

MTN and the banks have since strongly refuted the allegations.

Stanbic IBTC has issued a notice denying any form of wrongdoing, in a letter describing the CBN conclusions as based on factually incorrect premises.

Stanbic IBTC stated that at no time did the bank use irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) to make remittances on behalf of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited (MTNN) as alleged.

It argued that on the contrary, all remittances were done with the knowledge and approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and in accordance with the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and other extant Regulations.

But the CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele in the letter to the affected banks and MTN said upon the conclusion of investigation, the Committee of Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria met with the management teams of the banks and representatives of MTN in Lagos on May 25, 2018.

This was to give all parties a fair hearing towards taking an informed decision on the matter, the CBN document said.

The CBN letter said a review of MTN’s financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2007 revealed that $399,594,146.00 was recorded/invested as shareholders’ loan and $2,996,117.00 as equity investment, in accordance with the shareholder’s agreement but contrary to the CCIs issued by the banks.

It said following a request by MTN through Standard Chartered Bank for CBN’s approval to convert the shareholder’s loan to preference shares, an approval-in-principle was granted vide our letter dated November 13, 2007; with the grant of final approval made subject to the fulfillment of the conditions by your organization.

The conditions are implementation of the decision in item 5B of your board resolution dated November 08, 2007 and submission of documentary evidence to that effect to the Director, Trade and Exchange Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria; and provision of an undertaking that no remittance for either interest or principal repayment would be made to the shareholders from the date of the loan to the date they were converted to preference shares.

But in spite of the non-fulfilment of the conditions and consequently, the non-issuance of a final approval by the CBN, ‘’your organization converted the shareholders’ loan to preference shares with Standard Charted Bank issuing new CCIs in respect of the illegal conversion.’’

 

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