MTN Says Carrier Followed Nigeria Rules When Repatriating Funds

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(Bloomberg) -- MTN Group Ltd., responding in detail to allegations that the wireless carrier illegally moved more than $14 billion out of Nigeria, said Central Bank approvals were obtained before any dividends were issued.

“No dividends were declared or paid until the Certificates of Capital Importation were issued and finalized,” Ferdi Moolman, the Nigeria head of the Johannesburg-based company, said in an e-mailed statement on Friday. A CCI is a Central Bank document that allows for the transfer of capital from Nigeria to a foreign investor, according to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

MTN shares have slumped 14 percent to six-year lows since Nigerian politicians raised allegations that the wireless carrier broke the law when repatriating funds from the country, its biggest market, over 10 years starting in 2006. Moolman appeared before a Senate committee on Thursday to defend the company against the claims, which came four months after MTN agreed to pay a regulatory fine of $1.1 billion related to an order to disconnect unregistered subscribers.

MTN said some CCIs were issued outside a 24-hour requirement for various administrative reasons. The company said it believes its banks followed proper guidelines by notifying the Central Bank and getting approvals.

“The CBN has the authority, and indeed we believe, approved the banks’ applications to issue CCIs outside the recommended time frame,” Moolman said in the statement.

MTN fell 2 percent to 105.4 rand as of 12:46 p.m. in Johannesburg, the lowest since July 2010.

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