The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered the refund of USD8.1 billion it claims mobile operator MTN Nigeria illegally moved out of the country, Reuters reports. According to the CBN, MTN had not obtained approval before transferring the funds and four banks had also breached foreign exchange laws by failing to verify that the operator had met all the requirements. As a result, Standard Chartered PLC has been fined NGN2.4 billion (USD6.6 million), Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC NGN1.8 billion, Citibank NGN1.2 billion and Diamond Bank PLC NGN250 million for transferring the funds.
In November 2017 Nigeria’s Senate approved a report largely exonerating MTN, after an investigation launched in September 2016 accused the cellco of illegally repatriating USD13.9 billion to its South African parent company. In a statement, MTN Group said: ‘The re-emergence of these issues is regrettable as it damages investor confidence and, by extension, inhibits the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. We will engage with the relevant authorities and vigorously defend our position on this matter and provide further information when available.’