N330b fine: MTN pays N30b to Nigeria govt

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

MTN has paid N30 billion to the federal government as part of the N330 billion fine imposed on the telco for subscriber identity module (SIM) cards registration infractions, a source said at the weekend.

In December last year, the telco paid N80 billion thus bringing total payment to N110 billion.

The fine is due for payment in six instalments over three years, according to the settlement terms brokered by Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko for which he was handsomely rewarded a whopping $5.6million (about N2.4billion).

MTN Nigeria was originally slammed with an unprecedented $5.2 billion fine last October for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards active on its network. Aftera series of diplomatic shuttles, the fine was reduced in a settlement terms that allows MTN to list its subsidiary on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

MTN, which operates in 20 countries, had set aside $600 million last year to pay the fine.

Two months after making the first payment from the fine, MTN Group declared its first full-year loss, blaming it on the fine.

Negotiations on payment of the fine lasted eight months, which saw both parties going in and out of the courts.

Tony Ojobo, spokesman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), had disclosed the terms of settlement last year.

Ojobo said by the terms of agreement, the money will be made in six tranches. He gave the breakdown as N30 billion into NCC’s treasury single account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from June 10, 2016 (it has been paid).

He said other dates and amounts of the agreements were March 31, 2017 (N30billion) which has just been paid, March 31, 2018 (N55billion), December 31, 2018 (N55billion), March 31, 2019 (N55billion) and May 31, 2019 (N55billion).

Nigeria’s ComTech Minister, Adebayo Shittu has said nobody was interested in killing any firm operating in the country but advised operators to play by the rule of their host countries.

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