Standard Bank withdraws MTN Nigeria-related cautionary - TechCentral

Standard Bank withdraws MTN Nigeria-related cautionary

Standard Bank Group has withdrawn a cautionary announcement to shareholders related to demands placed on it by Nigeria’s central bank (CBN) after receiving a letter from the CBN promising a review of the situation.

This comes after Bloomberg reported last week that Nigeria wanted to end a dispute with MTN Group over a claim that the telecommunications operator illegally transferred $8.1-billion out of the country, an indication that relations between the two parties had started to thaw.

Standard Bank issued the cautionary about the Nigeria situation on 30 August about a proposed penalty on Stanbic ITBC Bank related to the MTN transfers.

“Shareholders are hereby notified that the CBN has written to advise the bank that it will examine new submissions and documentations made by the bank, and, where justified, it will review its earlier decision on the penalty it imposed on the bank. The bank had communicated that it believed that it had acted properly in an agency capacity,” Standard Bank said.

“Furthermore, the CBN has confirmed that the bank will not be debited for $2.6-billion, which the CBN had previously suggested that the bank should also be prepared to refund.

“As the financial impact of the penalties levied by the CBN on the bank has been published and sufficient clarity has now been provided by the CBN regarding the bank’s relationship to the refund sought by the CBN, caution is no longer required to be exercised by shareholders when dealing in their Standard Bank Group securities.”

The central bank made the accusation against MTN late last month, plunging the group into a crisis that wiped almost a third of the value off its share price. MTN has since provided additional information that may lead to an “equitable resolution”, a spokesman for the authority, Isaac Okorafor, said in an e-mailed statement last Wednesday, according to the Bloomberg report.

Four banks

Four banks — Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Stanbic IBTC and Diamond Bank — also provided further detail on the transactions that will be reviewed by the central bank, Okorafor said. The quartet were fined about $16-million between them for enabling the allegedly improper transactions.

The central bank’s statement didn’t refer to $2-billion of back taxes MTN it was also accused of owing — a claim that came from the attorney-general’s office.

MTN has approached the courts in Nigeria, saying allegations by both the central bank and attorney-general are unfounded, malicious and illegal.  — © NewsCentral Media and Bloomberg LP

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