Somehow it seems the MTN Group just can’t catch a break in Nigeria. It’s like a one step forward, two steps back thing. First, it was the brouhaha with the Nigerian Communications Commission, then there’s that N16 billion copyright law suit that was filed by the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON). And now? Now, the Nigerian Senate is investigating the allegation that MTN illegally transferred $12 billion dollars out of Nigeria over a 10-year period.
Senator Dino Melaye made the allegation last Thursday at the Senate and requested permission to investigate further. In his statement, he said, “MTN Nigeria paid a sum of $284.9 million on the 6th of February, 2001, to purchase their licence of operations in this country. Between 2006 and 2016, through four Nigerian Banks and a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, MTN moved over $12 billion out of Nigeria. That is about half of our external reserves. If I get the nod of the Senate I will want to bring a substantive motion on the next legislative day with substantiated facts to buttress this position.”
He closed by saying, “All hands must be on deck to recover every loot in the country. We are in a precarious situation and now is the time to recover every stolen money in the country.” As expected, his request was approved by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
This is the second time there’s been speculation about MTN Nigeria’s books. Sometime last year, Premium Times carried out an investigation regarding this same tax evasion issue and it was revealed MTN evades tax by using transfer pricing to move their profits offshore, and creating artificial operating costs. If the Senate’s investigation proves this allegation to be true, it’ll mean MTN has been evading tax in Nigeria – its biggest market – for about 10 years.
Put on your seat belts, guys. We’re in for another ride.