CBN hopeful of final deal in $8.1b dispute with MTN

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it is close to reaching final deal with MTN Nigeria over the $8.1 billion dispute it had with the telco.

Governor Godwin Emefiele yesterday assured, declining to provide further details. “We have held meetings with the MTN group and we are at the verge. I am optimistic that we have reached the end of the road,” Emefiele said yesterday in Abuja after Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting.

In August, the apex bank ordered MTN and its banks to bring $8.134 billion back into Nigeria, sending the company’s shares plummeting. The regulator alleged the firm had sent the funds abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations.

The governor said the company had submitted documents making the agreement possible, and that no other firm or person is being investigated for similar issues.

MTN’s latest troubles come about two years after it agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a dispute over SIM cards in Nigeria, whose finances have been hit by a weak economy and volatile global oil prices.

Nigeria, which accounts for a third of MTN’s annual core profit, making it MTN’s biggest market.

MTN’s lenders - Standard Chartered, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citibank and Diamond Bank - were also fined in connection to the money transfer.

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