Out-of-court settlement with CBN in progress, MTN tells court
Lead counsel for MTN Nigeria, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has said that its out-of-court settlement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is on course.At the resumed hearing yesterday, he told the trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, that at the last adjourned date, parties had informed the court of an ongoing discussion to settle out of court.
CBN and MTN are in dispute over the alleged repatriation of $8.1 billion profit from Nigeria by the telecommunications firm.A Federal High Court in Lagos adjourned till January 22, 2019, for report of settlement of the dispute. Olanipekun therefore pleaded the indulgence of the court to grant further adjournment to enable the parties conclude their talks.
He informed the court that counsel in the matter had agreed to come back on January 22 to brief the court on the level of progress reached on the negotiations.Counsel to the defendants, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and Oluwakemi Campbell, also agreed with the position of the plaintiff’s counsel.
Upon the application for adjournment by both, Justice Saidu adjourned the matter till January 22 for report of settlement.CBN had on August 29 sanctioned four banks with various fines about N5.87 billion for allegedly violating sections of the country’s foreign exchange regulations by facilitating the controversial repatriation of profits from Nigeria on behalf of MTN Nigeria.
Part of the repatriated funds was, a few years later, allegedly brought back into the country by the banks, ostensibly on behalf of some MTN offshore investors in the form of shareholders’ loans and equipment.
Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank and Diamond Bank were accused of “flagrant violation of extant laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006.”
However, MTN was directed by CBN to carry out a reversal of the transaction and return the entire $8.1 billion to Nigeria and follow the due process of repatriation of the funds.The telecommunication giant rejected the directive, insisting that it did not commit any crime to warrant sanction. Consequently, it filed the action on September 10 at the Federal High Court, challenging the sanction imposed on it by the apex bank.