MTN Documents May Cut $8.1 Billion Nigerian Claim, says CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The central bank alleged in late August that MTN and four banks — Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc — illegally repatriated money from Nigeria and that the company should return $8.1 billion. The local regulator also fined the four banks a combined $16 million.

Speaking to reporters in London on Sunday, Emefiele said he expected that the new information would help cut the size of the claim and that the matter would be resolved “amicably.”

“I don’t think it will be at $8.1 billion having provided documents,” Emefiele said, adding his staff is studying the documents and he hoped to make a decision on the matter in a “couple of weeks.”

MTN sought an injunction in early September to buy itself time and fight the claim in its biggest market, which wiped as much as 36 percent off its market value within two weeks.

“They will see they have been given a fair hearing,’’ Emefiele said. “More information has been provided and I’m very optimistic that matters are going to be resolved amicably.’’

Emefiele said the clash with MTN had taken a “global dimension” that it didn’t need to and that he was keen to demonstrate to international investors how open the Nigerian market is, calling the MTN matter “isolated’’ and no reason “for anyone to lose any sleep.’’

“This is not a matter that should have blown so openly,’’ he said. “Nigeria is a country that happens to be very, very open.’’

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