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MTN at Loggerheads With Nigerian Authorities Again

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MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter will be looking forward to a week when financial conflict with the Nigerian authorities isn't eating up his time.

Already at loggerheads with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over a US$8.1 billion claim for a 'refund' of repatriated dividends, MTN now faces a demand from the country's tax collector for a US$2 billion payment. (See MTN Hits Back at Repatriation Funds Claims.)

Providing an update on discussions with the CBN earlier this week, MTN noted in a statement to the Johannesburg stock exchange that it "felt it appropriate to update the market on our engagement with the Attorney General (AG) and his investigation into tax compliance in Nigeria."

That's because Nigeria's Attorney General has calculated that MTN Nigeria owes $2 billion in unpaid tax "relating to the importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers over the last 10 years." MTN says it has paid the appropriate tax on those imports.

"It is both regrettable and disconcerting that despite the historic engagements with the Nigerian authorities by MTN Nigeria, the senate investigation into the CCI [Certificate of Capital Importation] matter, and the multiple tax assessments done by the Nigerian tax authority over many years that were satisfactorily concluded, that these matters are being reopened," stated MTN.

"MTN Nigeria will continue to engage with the relevant authorities on all these matters and we remain resolute that MTN Nigeria has not committed any offences and will vigorously defend its position," it added.

The developments have put further pressure on MTN's stock, which has lost more than 16% in value this week and currently stands at R75.07.

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