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CBN Fine: Disbelieve, Shock Trails Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC Others

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Disbelieve is what is trailing Citibank, Standard Chartered bank, Stanbic-IBTC and another financial institution days after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), ordered them to pay a total sum of N5.87 billion, as fine.

The banks were fined for allegedly being involved in the issuance of irregular certificates of capital importation (CCIs) on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.

Since the fine, reactions that have been trailing the financial institutions have been that of shock and disbelieve, as many wonder how they reduced themselves to such a level.

In the international business sphere, Citibank, Standard Chartered bank, Stanbic-IBTC respected financial institutions considered of international repute; however the fine now put a dent on their image.

In a letter by the CBN dated 29 August 2018, and bordering on Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs), MTN Nigeria was alleged to have ran foul in respect of the conversion of shareholders loans in MTN Nigeria to preference shares in 2007. The communication company was informed by the apex bank that the CCIs issued had been improperly done, as such the apex bank claimed that the historic dividends repatriated by MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015 amounting to $8,1 billion need to be refunded to the CBN.

However, reacting to the letter, MTN Nigeria strongly refutes the allegations and claims. “No dividends have been declared or paid by MTN Nigeria other than pursuant to CCIs issued by our bankers and with the approval of the CBN as required by law,” a statement said.

 

The statement further said, “We will engage with the relevant authorities and vigorously defend our position on this matter and provide further information when available.”

 

The issue over the CCIs is not new, as it was subject of an enquiry by the Senate of Nigeria. In September 2016, the Senate mandated the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation on compliance with the Foreign exchange (monitoring and miscellaneous) Act by MTN Nigeria and Others.

 

The report of the enquiry issued in November 2017, stated that MTN Nigeria had not collude to contravene the foreign exchange laws and there were no negative recommendations made against MTN Nigeria.

 

However, there were questions surrounding the report, as some Senators frowned at the questionable investigation.

Industry Experts did not understand why the report largely condemned the CBN while MTN and named commercial banks which transferred money overseas were barely reprimanded, said one of the people familiar with the investigation.

A financial expert who reviewed the outcome of the report, but spoke on the condition of anonymity described the document as “poorly investigated report full of indecent holes”.

Subsequently, the Senate withdrew the report which exonerated the MTN in the alleged FX transfers.

One of the high points of the questionable report which was withdrawn was the fact that it gave no recommendations for punitive measures against MTN.

This new fine is coming after MTN paid 30 billion naira ($98 million) to the Nigerian government in part settlement of a 330 billion naira fine imposed on the telecoms group for not disconnecting unregistered SIM cards, an MTN source told Reuters in March.

 

 

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