MTN fine talks on hold until parliament concludes probe

25 Apr 2016

The Nigerian government will postpone any further negotiations regarding South African telecoms group MTN’s NGN780 billion (USD3.9 billion) fine until parliament concludes an investigation into the matter, Reuters cites the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, as saying. Last month the House of Representatives launched a probe into whether Nigeria can reduce the fine further; it originally totalled NGN1.04 trillion but was cut by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to NGN780 billion in December 2015. ‘As soon as the ongoing [parliamentary] investigations are concluded we will sit down with them [MTN],’ Shittu told reporters last week.

Late last year MTN launched legal action against the fine, which was issued in October 2015 after the group’s local unit failed to meet a deadline to disconnect around 5.1 million unregistered subscribers. In February, however, MTN announced that it had withdrawn its lawsuit and had made a ‘good faith payment’ of NGN50 billion to the federal government with a view to reaching a possible settlement. The South African firm says it is continuing to engage with the Nigerian authorities ‘in an attempt to ensure an amicable resolution to this matter’.