Following allegations of fund repatriation levelled against it by a member of the National Assembly, mobile telecommunications operator, MTN Group, has denied the allegation, noting that its processes in acquiring Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) had been transparent.
MTN CEO, Moolman
MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, in a statement issued from the company’s South African Head Office, said that whereas the telecom company only requested for CCIs for Foreign Capital that was imported into Nigeria, dividends were neither declared nor paid until the CCIs were issued and finalised.
Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) is a Central Bank of Nigeria (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.
The Apex bank had in June 2016 introduced the Electronic Certificates of Capital Importation (e-CCI), a process replacement for the paper approval, for improved efficiency.
A CCI 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.
It would be recalled that the Senator representing Kogi-West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, had accused the telecommunications firm of ‘Unscrupulous Violation of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act’ by repatriating $13.9bn from Nigeria to other countries over a 10-year period.
The Senator pointed out 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 CBN notified of the inflow by the Bank within 48 hours of receipt and conversion of the proceeds to naira as required by regulation.
In the company’s defence, Moolman noted: “Often for various reasons (such as not having all the required documentation for instance), it is not possible to issue a CCI within 24 hours, and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Forex Manual contemplates such situations by asking that the banks refer to the CBN for approval. Besides, the requirement to issue a CCI within 24 hours of conversion is an administrative requirement. As such, the CBN has the authority, and indeed we believe, approved the banks’ applications to issue CCIs outside the recommended time frame.”
The Senate has already began a probe into the allegation.