By Florence Onuegbu
MTN Nigeria did not repatriate $13.92 billion out of Nigeria, its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ferdi Moolman, said today, debunking an allegation made in the Nigerian Senate.
Moolman said in a statement in Lagos that the company’s attention had been drawn to media reports containing an allegation of MTN, Nigeria’s improper repatriation of money out of Nigeria.
According to him, the reports said that MTN illegally repatriated $13.92 billion over a period of 10 years, in collusion with some commercial banks.
“The allegations made against MTN are completely unfounded and without any merit,’’ Moolman said.
Sen. Dino Melaye (Kogi West) had on Sept. 22 accused MTN Nigeria of money laundering and repatriation of $14 billion out of the country.
Melaye alleged that the company committed the crime in the last 10 years in connivance with four commercial banks and a serving minister.
Speaking under Order 42 of the senate, the lawmaker said that at this time of economic recession in Nigeria, it was imperative that all hands must be on deck to recover looted funds.
“We are in a precarious situation, and now is the time to recover every stolen money in the country.
“Between 2006 and 2016, MTN Nigeria, in collaboration with four commercial banks and with the help of a serving Minister, has moved $14 billion out of this country,’’ he said.
Melaye said that, if given the opportunity, he would move the substantive motion on the following legislative day, with evidence to prove the allegation.
Ruling on the point of order, Senate President Bukola Saraki granted Melaye the privilege of moving the substantive motion during the next senate plenary.
MTN had been similarly accused of bribing a senior government official with N500million to get its N1.04 trillion fine reduced on the company for infraction.
But CEO Mr Ferdi Moolman debunked the story in a statement in Lagos.
”MTN Nigeria has no knowledge of this and the allegation is therefore denied.
“The MTN Nigeria fine was ultimately settled with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),” he added.
Media reports have alleged that a top presidency official had collected N500 million as bribe from MTN to help the company to mitigate the fine imposed on it by the Federal Government.
The NCC had last year reduced the fine to N330 billion.
MTN was allowed to pay the fine in a staggered payment plan that would last till May 31, 2019.