After cutting investors payout by almost 50 percent earlier, MTN Nigeria is in the spotlight again. This time, the South African telecom giant, is under investigation by the Nigerian Senate for allegedly laundering billions of dollars over a 10-year period and failing to pay necessary tax in the country.
MTN battle with the Nigeria government began soon after announcing it’s becoming a limited liability company last year. The settlement did not deter the Nigerian Communication Commissions (NCC), from slamming them with fresh fines. Then there’s the N16 billion copyright law suit that was filed by the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West made the allegation last Thursday at the Senate and requested permission to investigate further. In his statement, he said:
“MTN Nigeria paid a sum of $284.9 million on the 6th of February, 2001, to purchase their license of operations in this country. Between 2006 and 2016, through four Nigerian Banks and a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, MTN moved over $12 billion out of Nigeria. That is about half of our external reserves. If I get the nod of the Senate I will want to bring a substantive motion on the next legislative day with substantiated facts to buttress this position.”
He closed by saying, “All hands must be on deck to recover every loot in the country. We are in a precarious situation and now is the time to recover every stolen money in the country.” As expected, his request was approved by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
This is the second time MTN Nigeria’s books is been questioned. Sometime last year, Premium Times carried out an investigation regarding this same tax evasion issue and it was revealed MTN Nigeria evaded tax by using a scheme called Transfer Pricing to move their profits offshore and creating artificial operating costs.
If the Senate’s investigation proves this allegation to be true, it’ll mean MTN has been evading tax in Nigeria – its biggest market – for about 10 years and “members of the upper chamber were clearly angered” when the revelations, that the company connived with four commercial banks and a serving minister to ferret out money from Nigeria, were made.