The Federal Government on Tuesday disclosed that heavy fines imposed on MTN Nigeria Communications Limited was because the telecommunications company took stipulated regulations for granted.
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed stated this during a session at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.
She said MTN provided what the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) earlier requested after the firm and some affected Deposit Money Banks were asked to refund about $8.1bn.
CBN recently effected the N5.87 billion fine on four banks that breached its capital importation policy.
CBN debited the accounts of Standard Chartered Bank with N2.4 billion, Stanbic IBTC N1.88 billion, Citibank Nigeria N1.2 billion and Diamond Bank N250 million for allegedly issuing irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCI) on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.
MTN Nigeria was also directed by the CBN to refund $8.134 billion to its coffers.
Reacting, the minister said, “The MTN incident was a very damaging one for us and that was one of the reasons why we have been out trying to engage our investors. But you see there is a tendency for big businesses to take regulation and government for granted.
“Only after that incident happened, all of the information that the CBN had been trying to get for months actually came out. Now, I think they are up to a point where they have almost solved the problem.
“And this is information that the CBN governor had personally met with MTN, with the key banks involved and had asked them to provide the information.”
Zainab recalled that the information requested for by the CBN from MTN and the banks had to do with an audit that took place over a period of two years.
She said, “It was an audit that took place over the course of two and a half years and the auditors were not satisfied with some of the information.
“They queried and they asked for additional information. Unfortunately, this was negative for us but is now being sorted out and we are bearing the cost of it. We have been engaging investors and trying to explain what is happening.
“We are trying to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. We are continuously discussing with the regulatory authorities and there will be no company next after MTN. Nobody is next because we just can’t afford this kind of incidence to happen.”