A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned till December to hear a case between MTN Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a disagreement over the alleged repatriation of $8.1 billion by the telecommunication company.
Justice Saliu Saidu also adjourned till November 8, a separate hearing between MTN and the Attorney General of the Federation over an alleged $2 billion unpaid tax bill at the same court in Lagos.
On August 29, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed MTN to refund $8.1 billion shareholders’ funds it repatriated from the country through illegal means, while it imposed a combined fine of N5.87 billion on four banks – Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc – that allegedly aided the process.
Two weeks later, the telecommunication firm was indicted by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), demanding for another $2 billion tax default, bringing the total claim by the federal government from MTN to $10.1 billion.
In early September, the telecom firm, which has Nigeria as its largest market, sought a court injunction restraining CBN from demanding that the amount should be refunded in order to buy itself time and fight the claim which wiped as much as 36 percent off its market value within two weeks.
”In order to protect MTN Nigeria’s assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law, we have applied today in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders,” the telecom firm said in a statement.
In separate legal documents, the CBN asked the court to deny MTN’s request and said the telecommunication firm should pay 15 percent annualised interest on the sum until the court make a judgment and 10 percent from then until the whole amount is paid.
December 4 was scheduled to hear MTN’s seeking to retrain CBN from taking steps to reclaim the alleged debt.
Consequently, the court will also hear CBN’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
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