Nigeria’s Central Bank fines four banks for helping MTN illegally transfer $8bn

Late Wednesday, Nigeria’s central bank fined four leading banks a combined sum of $16m (£12.3m) for their part in helping South African telecoms giant MTN Group Ltd illegally send $8.134 billion abroad, in breach of foreign exchange regulations, reports BBC Africa business correspondent Dami Ade-Odiachi.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has also ordered the banks to refund the money MTN transferred. The four banks involved are Standard Chartered PLC fined 2.4 billion naira ($7.86 million), Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC 1.8 billion naira ($5 million), Citibank 1.2 billion naira ($3.3 million) and Diamond Bank PLC 250 million naira ($694,271), the central bank said.

The re-emergence of these issues is regrettable as it damages investor confidence and, by extension, inhibits the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. We will engage with the relevant authorities and vigorously defend our position on this matter and provide further information when available, MTN said in a statement on Thursday.

MTN’s separate, $1 billion fine in Nigeria was for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered customers as part of a government security crackdown to counter an Islamist insurgency. Negotiations over that penalty went on for almost a year and weighed heavily on the share price, which has never recovered. The company fired its then-CEO over that crisis and drafted in former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help settle the matter. The fine was later cut to $1.7bn.

MTN has over 54 million Nigerian customers and the country accounts for over 30% of the company’s business out of 221 million worldwide. The company’s share price has slumped 21% this year to R107.34, valuing the company at R202 billion ($14bn), and touched eight-year lows earlier this month.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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