MTN Probe: Again, Senate Committee Summons Banks

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By Obinna Chima

The Senate Committee on Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions has once more invited the Chief Executive Officers of four banks allegedly involved in the repatriation of capital by MTN for a meeting tomorrow.

The banks were alleged to have connived with MTN Nigeria and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, to move the sum $13.9 billion out of the country without the required authorisation. The banks are Standard Chartered, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citibank.

Although a source who disclosed the summon of the banks by the lawmakers did not give reason for the fresh summon of the bank chiefs, he described it as an attempt by the lawmakers to harass the financial institutions, even when one of the regulators at the hearing, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) had blamed the matter on regulatory lapses.

In fact, the Executive Secretary of the FRCN, Mr. Jim Obaze had said the regulatory agencies should be blamed for the infraction.

“Everything in the country is now subjected to politics rather than rule of law. As a nation, we must be careful how we go about things, even as lawmakers, we must not scare away investors all in the name of oversight function,” the source said.

The upper legislative chamber, according to a motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) had on September 27, alleged that MTN beat the nation’s financial regulatory laws by failing to obtain a certificate of capital importation (CCI) as authorised by CBN Financial and Miscellaneous Act within 24 hours between 2006 and 2016 before moving the money out of the country.

The senator had alleged that MTN did not request for the CCI from its bankers, Standard Chartered Bank, within the regulatory period of 24 hours of the inflow, nor was the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) notified of the inflow by the bank within 48 hours of receipt and conversion of the proceeds to naira as required by regulation.

CCI is a CBN certificate issued by banks for importation of cash (foreign currency inflow) for investment as equity or loan, and also for importation of machinery and equipment for investment as equity or loan. It is usually issued in the name of the investor within 24-48 hours of the inflow of the capital into Nigeria. The primary purpose of the CCI is to guarantee access to the official foreign exchange market for repatriations of capital and returns on investment – dividend, interest, and capital on divestments. A copy of the CCI must be presented to the Nigerian bank to process a remittance by the requesting company.