The MTN Group has secured the right to transfer money out of Nigeria after the High Court in Lagos turned down the Nigerian Government’s request to freeze the telco’s assets.
The Nigerian federal Government had requested that MTN’s accounts be frozen pending the outcome of a legal battle over the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) US$3.9 billion (R64.5 billion) fine against the telecommunications group.
The application was brought by Nigeria’s attorney-general and its minister of justice, who were concerned that the operator could move all of its money from the country before the fine is enforced.
A 14-paragraph affidavit was submitted, arguing that MTN could potentially repatriate its funds out of Nigeria, citing that between October 2007 and May 2009, MTN repatriated US$7.7 billion made in Nigeria to foreign accounts.
The judge turned down the application stating that it had not proved adequately that MTN was about to withdraw its funds from Nigeria.
The fine, which is a reduction from the original US$5.2 billion (R86 billion), was imposed on MTN by the NCC, after it failed to disconnect more than 5 million unregistered SIM cards, as required under Nigerian anti-terrorism rules.
MTN is currently contesting the fine in court, with the hearing scheduled to begin on 22 January.