MTN Group on Wednesday said the accusation by the Senate that its Nigerian subsidiary, MTN Nigeria, illegally repatriated about $13.92 billion from the country was “completely unfounded and without any merit”.
“MTN’s attention has been drawn to various media reports containing allegations of improper repatriation of money out of Nigeria by the company.
“”The reports refer to allegations made on the floor of the Senate MTN had illegally repatriated $13.92 billion out of Nigeria over a period of 10 years in collusion with a number of commercial banks.
“The allegations made against MTN are completely unfounded and without any merit”, MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdi Moolman, said in a terse rebuttal from the telecom group’s Johannesburg, South Africa base.
Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, on Thursday raised the matter on the floor of the senate accusing the South African firm of the illegal transfer from Nigeria, depriving the country of its mandatory tax.
Following Mr. Melaye’s presentation, the lawmakers were particularly irked by the allegation that the firm used four Nigerian commercial banks and a serving minister to commit the alleged offence.
“Between 2006 and 2016, MTN, in collaboration with four commercial banks and with the help of a serving Minister, moved over $12billion out of this country,” Mr. Melaye said.
Despite the rebuttal, PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation almost a year ago had uncovered how the telecom giant reputed to be Africa’s largest, manipulated Nigerian tax regulations to ferret billions of dollars abroad, without paying due tax to Nigerian authorities.
PREMIUM TIMES investigations revealed how MTN deployed various tax avoidance and transfer pricing schemes to outwit Nigerian tax agencies to launder billions to notorious tax havens abroad.
Findings showed how MTN Nigeria, paid billions to two overseas subsidiaries – MTN Dubai and MTN International in Mauritius – both located in tax havens.
MTN Mauritius is a shell company with no staff and physical presence in the capital Port Louis, apart a post office letter box.
For instance, in 2013 the company budgeted about N11.398 billion from its Nigerian operation, later transferred to MTN Dubai.
A similar transfer of N11.789 billion was effected by MTN Ghana to the same MTN Dubai, making a total of N23.187 billion shipped to the Dubai offshore account.
The transfers did not receive official approval from the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), the Nigerian agency mandated to oversee such transfers.
NOTAP officials in charge of such approvals equally ignored several freedom of information requests from PREMIUM TIMES seeking clarifications over transfer, suggesting a high level official compromise.
Based on the apparent understanding with its top officials, NOTAP quashed with impunity an estimated N90.2 billion due to Nigerian government as management fees from agreement with MTN since its commencement of business in 2002.
Until 2010, MTN Nigeria had an agreement with MTN Dubai to pay 1.75 per cent of all its revenues to the company as management fees and royalties for the use of the MTN trademark.