The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has imposed sanctions totalling N5.87 billion on four banks for wrongly assisting MTN Nigeria to repatriate funds.
The banks allegedly issued irregular certificates of capital importation (CCIs) on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.
The affected banks are Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank, and Diamond Bank.
Announcing the decision of the bank in Abuja on Wednesday, Director, Corporate Communications of CBN, Isaac Okorafor, said the decision of the financial regulator became necessary following allegations of remittance of foreign exchange with irregular CCIs issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria and subsequent investigations carried out by the apex bank in March 2018.
According to him, the CBN has asked the managements of MTN Nigeria to immediately refund the sum of $8,134,312,397.63 illegally repatriated by the company to the coffers of the apex bank.
The CBN slammed Standard Chartered Bank the highest fine of N2.4 billion, while Stanbic IBTC Nigeria received a fine of N1.88 billion.
Citibank Nigeria was ordered to pay a sum of N1.2 billion and Diamond Bank was penalized in the sum of N250 million for violating extant rules.
The CBN spokesman said investigations revealed that the sum of $3,448,119,321.72 was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank on the basis of the illegally issued CCIs.
Similarly, he said the sums of $2,632,005,623.78, $1,766,263,212.75 and $348,914,501.30 were repatriated by Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc, respectively between 2007 and 2015.
He added that the CBN had directed the affected banks to immediately refund the respective sums to the CBN.
Okorafor, therefore, advised all banks and multinational companies in the country to adhere strictly to the provisions of all extant laws and regulations of Nigeria in their foreign exchange transactions.
This will be the second heavy sanction MTN would be facing from Nigerian regulators in three years after the $5.2 billion fine it received from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2015.
The telecommunications company, which only just finished paying the reduced fine of $3.2 billion, will see this as another huge challenge posing a serious threat to its corporate existence in Nigeria.