MTN has confirmed that it’s paid $250 million (R3,9 billion) towards the hefty $3,9bn (R60,6 bn) penalty that was imposed on them by the Nigerian government in 2015 after the telecommunications company failed to disconnect users, reports
“Pursuant to the ongoing engagement with the Nigerian authorities, MTN Nigeria has today made a good-faith payment of 50 billion naira. [The money was paid] on the basis that this will be applied towards a settlement, where one is eventually, hopefully arrived at,” MTN said in a statement.
Nigeria has a population of more than 200 million, making it Africa’s most populated country, and is MTN’s biggest market. In Nigeria, MTN had more than 62,8 million subscribers by the second quarter of 2015.
“In an effort to achieve an amicable settlement, MTN has agreed to withdraw the matter from the Federal High Court in Lagos,” the statement read.
Initially, the fine was for $5,2bn (R80,7bn), but following an appeal by MTN it was later reduced to $3,9bn. This also lead to the resignation of Sifiso Dabengwa, who at the time was CEO of the group, as well as the stepping down of Nigerian executives.
The initial fine exceeded the telecommunications company’s total sales in Nigeria in 2014 – it was equal to almost 37% of the group’s total revenue.
“I’m sure before the week runs out, if we’re able to confirm that MTN has paid a particular sum of money, the next step will be to look at what was paid vis-à-vis what’s expected of them to pay as per the fine,” Victor Oluwadamilare, Nigeria’s communications ministry spokesperson, told AFP.
He also added that MTN was finally coming to terms with the reality of the fine and that they were probably tired of being in court. He also said they cannot yet confirm that MTN has made the payment they say they have.
“And of course, if what MTN paid falls short of what’s expected of them, the government will come up with a detailed reaction in the best interest of Nigeria,” he said.