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$5.2bn Fine: Why Court Stopped MTN From Moving Fund Abroad

MTN could move all its funds out of the country before the N1.04tn fine could be enforced

  • To ensure MTN has enough cash to pay $5.2 billion fine pending the outcome of court proceedings
  • MTN could move all its funds out of the country before the fine could be enforced
  • Between October 2007 and May 2009, a period of 19 months, MTN moved over $7.7 billion of the money made in Nigeria to a foreign accounts

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos within the week ordered Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and MTN to maintain status quo in order to ensure that the telecom operator do not empty its accounts in 21 commercial banks in Nigeria.

The move is aimed that ensuring that MTN has enough cash at its disposal to pay $5.2 billion fine in case the outcome of the court is such that MTN must pay that fine.

This is following an injunction by the Attorney General of the Federation, seeking to bar MTN Nigeria from emptying it account.

Trial judge, Justice Idris Mohammed, ordered parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the determination of the suit and adjourned till January 22, 2016 for hearing.

The AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, who filed the application, had expressed the fear that MTN could move all its funds out of the country before the N1.04tn fine could be enforced.

“Unless this court urgently entertains this application, the plaintiff/respondent would move its funds out of Nigeria, being the jurisdiction of this honourable court, and thereby frustrate the enforcement of the fine in the likely event that this honourable court sanctions the imposition of the fine.’’

Though the court did not expressly grant the application, it has, meanwhile by the status quo order, prevented MTN from moving funds from the accounts in the 21 commercial banks in Nigeria outside the country.

The fine was imposed on MTN  by NCC over its failure to deactivate its unregistered subscribers.

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