Nigeria Drops US$2B MTN Tax Demand


A long-running spat between MTN Group and Nigerian authorities cooled as a demand for US$2 billion in back taxes and a related legal action were withdrawn, with the matter referred to the country’s revenue and customs departments for resolution.

In a statement, MTN said Nigeria’s attorney general removed an order made in late 2018 demanding payment of dues related to historical equipment imports and supplier payments.

The operator had vowed to fight the demand in court with the case due to begin on 30 January, having already been postponed a number of times. Legal action has now been called-off completely.

Despite the climbdown by the attorney general, the matter is not completely closed. The case is being referred to the country’s inland revenue and customs departments, which will both engage with MTN Nigeria to find a solution.

MTN said it was committed to “maintaining cordial relationships with all regulatory authorities in Nigeria”. The operator’s CEO Rob Shuter  added the attorney general’s decision “paves the way to an orderly and amicable resolution of this matter”.

The news comes a year after the company settled a separate dispute with Nigerian authorities over an US$8.1 billion fine levied on claims the operator improperly moved funds out of the country. MTN eventually paid US$53 million and denied allegations throughout the case.

After settling the US$8.1 billion dispute, MTN’s relations with Nigerian regulators significantly thawed. Its local division has since listed on the country’s stock exchange and secured a mobile money agent licence through one of its subsidiaries.-Mobile World Live

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