The Nigerian attorney-general’s office exceeded its powers when it demanded MTN Group pay about US$2-billion in back taxes, Africa’s largest wireless operator has said.
The South African mobile phone company has been rocked twice in the past two weeks in its biggest market, with the central bank and the attorney-general accusing MTN of illegally repatriating funds and failing to pay back taxes, making combined claims of $10-billion.
MTN denies the allegations and is seeking a court order to halt the process.
The attorney-general “ought not to have undertaken an unauthorised process which has caused undue, unwarranted and untold injury to” the company’s reputation, MTN said in legal documents. The operator is seeking two billion naira ($5.5-million) in damages and a further one billion naira in legal costs.
MTN’s share price has plunged by more than a third since the crisis erupted late last month. The dispute comes just over two years after the Johannesburg-based company settled a separate, $1-billion fine over improperly registered subscribers that was levied by the Nigerian Communications Commission.
The stock dropped 2.8% to R72 by the close in Johannesburg Tuesday. — Reported by Yinka Ibukun, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP