The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may reduce the amount it has ordered MTN Nigeria to repatriate, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said on Sunday.
While addressing reporters in London on Sunday, Emefiele said new documents provided by the telecom company would help to reduce the size of the claim.
Reuters reported that Emefiele said during a visit to London, “I don’t think it will be staying at $8.1bn,”adding that he expected the issue to be dealt with amicably and equitably.
“I want to believe that the figure will reduce. Whether it will be dropped completely, I honestly cannot say at this time,” he added.
Emefiele said the central bank had received documents about two weeks ago from MTN and four lenders involved in the case – Standard Chartered, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citibank and Diamond Bank –and was in communication with all parties involved.
“The central bank will be examining these, then it will be escalated up to my level,” he said, adding that he expected to get the results in a couple of weeks.
The two sides are locked in a court dispute over the transaction as the CBN filed a counter-claim on Friday to a court request by MTN, which is seeking to stop the bank from forcing it to bring back the money.
The apex bank also asked the Johannesburg-based mobile phone company to pay 15 per cent annualised interest on the sum until the court could give a judgment, and 10 per cent from then until the whole amount would be paid.
Emefiele stated that the MTN case was a one-off, and the central bank was not looking at transactions involving any other companies operating in Nigeria.
“We respect the sanctity of these companies,” he added.
Emefiele also said the central bank would continue to intervene in the foreign exchange markets, adding that he believed in a stable exchange rate regime.
He insisted that Nigeria’s current stance of monetary tightening would continue.
The dispute over $8.1bn repatriated funds started when the CBN alleged that MTN used improperly issued certificates to transfer funds out of Nigeria after the telecom giant converted shareholder loans in its Nigerian unit to preference shares in 2007, but MTN denied the allegations.
The monetary authority said MTN’s banks had failed to verify that the telecom group had met all the country’s foreign exchange regulations.
As such, the CBN imposed a total of N5.87bn on four banks for allegedly remitting dividends with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation on behalf of MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015.