4 September 2018

Nigeria: More Trouble for MTN As Telecom Giant Faces Fresh $2 Billion Tax Demand

Photo: Creative Commons
(file photo).

The Nigerian government has slammed South African telecoms giant, MTN Group, with a $2 billion tax demand.

The new tax bill incurred by the telecom firm over the last decade comes amid controversies generated by the government's directive to MTN to hand over $8.1 billion it accused the firm of illegally sending abroad with the collusion of four banks.

MTN said it had been in talks with Nigeria's Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, over concerns around tax compliance; but it was billed all the same.

The company in a statement said it was billed for importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers, all spread across a period of about ten years.

"In this process, his (the Attorney-General's) office made a high-level calculation that MTN Nigeria should have paid approximately $2.0 billion in taxes relating to the importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers over the last 10 years," MTN said.

The firm added, however, that its total payment of around $700 million over the 10-year period fully settled the amount owed under the taxes in question.

Reuters reports Tuesday that shares in the telecom firm dropped 5.6 per cent to 81.95 rand as at noon, bringing losses since last week to nearly 25 per cent. Last Thursday, the telecom firm was issued $8.1 billion demand over concerns around repatriation of funds.

The latest demands come two years after Africa's biggest telecoms company agreed to pay more than $1 billion to end a dispute with Nigeria over unregistered SIM cards.

MTN, in its reaction, described the latest demands by Nigerian authorities as "regrettable and disconcerting".

The company said it 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."

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