MTN Nigeria Fine Case Adjourned till March to Seek Out-of-Court Settlement

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In October 2015, the Nigeria Communication Commission slapped MTN Nigeria, the largest mobile service operator with a  a $5 billion fine for failing to abide by rules that required mobile phone operators in Nigeria to disconnect  unregistered Sim Cards. The NCC had initially asked all operators to comply by August 2015.  Failure to comply by the 4 mobile operators in Nigeria including  Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and MTN Nigeria saw them slapped with fines in August 2015.  According to the NCC, MTN failed to register 5 Million of its 62 million customers. The fine was later slashed to $3.4 Billion.

MTN initially sought negotiations with the NCC as a way forward. The Commission was however adamant that MTN pays the fine by December 2015.  With negotiations failing, the two engaged in counter suits with MTN suing the NCC challenging the commission’s power to impose fines against it but filed the case in Lagos. The Commission then counter-sued MTN for failure to comply in paying the fine but in an Abuja Court. The NCC further sought the intervention of Nigerian courts to stop MTN from transferring any funds abroad until the Court case is determined.

According to a statement on the MTN website, the case has been adjourned till 18th March 2016 to allow the two parties settle the case. If the parties fail to agree, the  hearing will then proceed on the stated date.  One of the repercussions of the fine was a drop in the price of MTN shares to all-time lows eroding 40% of value. The news of the adjournment has seen the stock rise nearly 12% according to Bloomberg.  MTN is also under scrutiny in Cameroon together with France Orange for failing to pay about $166 Million in taxes according to  Cameroon’s National Anti-Corruption Commission.

 

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