MTN talks with Nigeria over record R61 billion fine suspended

The Nigerian government has suspended talks with MTN over its record 780 billion naira (R61 billion) fine for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered SIMs from its network, Bloomberg reported.

According to the report, the talks are suspended indefinitely while the country’s House of Representatives finishes an investigation into the size of the penalty, and how it was delivered.

Spokesperson for Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications,  Victor Oluwadamilare, told Bloomberg that until the committee set up to “investigate the MTN saga… are through with it, nothing can be done”.

MTN Nigeria was handed a fine for failing to disconnect 5.2-million unregistered SIMs on its network by a Nigerian Communications Commission-given (NCC) deadline.

The NCC originally fined the network operator ₦200,000 (R15,572) per unregistered SIM active on its network.

This fine was later reduced by 25% to ₦780 billion (R61 billion), but MTN elected to take the matter to Nigeria’s courts.

It later dropped the case and paid a “good faith” sum of ₦50 billion (R3.8 billion at the time) in an effort to achieve an amicable settlement.

Nigerian lawmakers said this payment into the recovery account was in violation of the law, and called on MTN Nigeria’s chief executive officer, Ferdinand Moolman, to appear before the telecommunications committee.

Bloomberg said that MTN’s last reported offer was to pay ₦300 billion in a combination of staggered cash payments, sovereign debt purchases, and access to its network.

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MTN talks with Nigeria over record R61 billion fine suspended