Nigeria’s Attorney General has withdrawn a tax claim of USD 2 billion against MTN. He referred the matter to more relevant authorities.
The legal action is based on claims that MTN had unpaid taxes.
After the claim, MTN Nigeria commenced legal action in Lagos against the attorney-general. Hence, leading to months of a bruising court battle.
On Friday, MTN announced it was off the hook. Its legal counsel received a letter dated 08 January 2020. It stated that after a careful review and due consultation with relevant statutory agencies.
The Attorney General had decided to refer the matter to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs (NC), with a view to them resolving the issues.
The claims by the Attorney was that MTN Nigeria should have paid approximately USD 2 billion in taxes. The telco had allegedly imported foreign equipment. Made payments to foreign suppliers over the prior ten years.
MTN vowed to follow the court processes prior to the case withdrawal.
“MTN Nigeria will consequently follow due court process. Until it withdraws its legal action against the AGF and engages with FIRS and NC on this issue.”
It further noted that ” the telco it will continue with its commitment to build and maintain cordial relationships with all regulatory authorities in Nigeria.
Commenting on the news, MTN Group CEO, Rob Shuter said “we appreciate this decision of the Attorney General. It paves the way to an orderly and amicable resolution of this matter. MTN will remain fully committed to meeting our fiscal responsibilities. Contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria and all regions where we operate.”
MTN had earlier agreed to make an almost $53 million payment to resolve the dispute.
At the time, it said MTN Nigeria and the CBN had agreed it would pay a notional reversal amount of $52.6 million, without admission of liability. This was for a 2008 private placement remittance worth around $1 billion that the CBN found was based on certificates that did not have final approval.
Almost three years ago, MTN agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a dispute over SIM cards in Nigeria. This was after the telco failed to meet a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards on its Nigerian network