N1.04 trillion fine: NCC, MTN structure payment till 2019

MTN
MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria on Friday resolved with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to settle their differences over the $3.4 billion (N1.04 trillion) fine imposed on the telecoms firm in October 2015.

After nearly six months of negotiation, both sides have agreed that MTN should pay only N330 billion from the N780 billion it was earlier reduced to.

The latest amount includes the “goodwill” payment of N50 billion earlier by MTN to the federal government.

In line with terms of the resolution, the balance of N280 billion would be paid by MTN in six tranches between now and May 31, 2019.

Details of the payment plan showed that MTN would immediately pay N30 billion into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from June 10, 2016 when the agreement was signed.

A statement by the NCC on Friday, signed by the director Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Tony Ojobo, indicated that other tranches of payments would included March 31, 2017 (N30 billion), March 31, 2018 (N55 billion), December 31, 2018 (N55 billion), March 31, 2019 (N55billion) and the balance of N55 billion on May 31, 2019.

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Mr. Ojobo said the resolutions were signed by Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Umar Danbatta; NCC Commission Secretary, Felix Adeoye, Chief Executive of MTN Nigeria, Fredi Moolman and the Company Secretary, Uto Ukpanah.

As part of the agreement, MTN is expected to apologize to the federal government and Nigerians within one month of the execution of the agreement.

Besides, the telecoms firm would also subscribe to voluntary observance and compulsory compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance for the industry.

Equally, MTN has agreed to take immediate steps to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as soon as commercially and legally possible after the date of execution of the agreement.

Both MTN and NCC have also agreed that “the terms of settlement cannot be altered, varied, annulled or modified in any respect, except by writing duly executed by both parties”.

MTN Nigeria CEO, Mr. Moolman, said it was of critical importance that the resolution was reached, noting it would be of universal benefit to all parties given the importance of the ICT industry in Nigeria and its tremendous impact on socio-economic growth of the people.

“MTN Nigeria once again offers its most sincere apologies for the series of unfortunate events that led to the imposition of the fine,” he said.

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Mr. Moolman said the company’s decision to list its shares in the Nigerian Stock Exchange was to showcase broader public participation MTN Nigeria exemplifies as one of Nigeria’s success stories.

MTN Group Executive Chairman, Phutuma Nhleko, commended the spirit in which the matter was resolved by the Federal Government, describing it as the best outcome.

On October 20, 2015, the NCC had imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN for infraction of the provisions of the NCC (Registration of the telephone subscribers) Regulations, 2011.

The company was accused of failing to disconnect 5.1million improperly registered telephone lines within the prescribed deadline.

The fine was later reduced by 25 per cent to N780 billion. But, MTN was later to take an action against the NCC at the Federal High Court in Lagos against the manner the fine was imposed, describing it as “not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act”.

However, in February 2016, MTN announced the withdrawal of the case against the NCC and an initial “goodwill” payment of N50 billion to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations.

Last month, the federal government ordered negotiations on the fine to be suspended indefinitely.

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