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Nigerian central bank to meet MTN lenders

Nigerian central bank to meet MTN lenders

Nigeria's central bank will today meet four lenders of MTN to discuss a dispute over an $8.1 billion fund transfer, according to a banking source.

Nigeria's central bank plans to meet four lenders of telecoms company MTN to discuss a dispute over an $8.1 billion fund transfer, after a court adjourned the case, a banking source said.

The central bank e-mailed invitations on Thursday to the Nigeria heads of Standard Chartered, Citibank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Diamond Bank to attend a meeting on Friday, the source said.

Nigeria's central bank has accused SA-based MTN of violating currency regulations by sending $8.1 billion abroad, and in August ordered the company and its banks to repatriate the funds. MTN and the banks involved have denied any wrongdoing and the banks want the central bank to refund them money charged to their accounts in the form of fines.

The central bank and the banks declined to comment on a potential meeting on Friday. A spokeswoman for MTN said she did not know of a meeting.

The source said the meeting would start at 4pm West Africa Standard Time on Friday and focus on MTN's fund transfer.

Last week, a Lagos court adjourned a hearing on the $8.1 billion dispute between MTN and the central bank until 4 December.

Central bank governor Godwin Emefiele has said he was optimistic the MTN issue could be resolved.

Financial stability risk

Nigeria is MTN's biggest market, accounting for a third of the company's annual core profit, but has proved to be problematic in recent years.

In a separate case, MTN faces a $2 billion tax demand from Nigeria's attorney general, a claim which the firm has said is without merit. The Lagos court on Thursday adjourned the case against the attorney general until 3 December.

Africa's biggest telecoms firm has a market valuation of roughly $12 billion and the two disputes total $10.1 billion.

SA's central bank said on Wednesday that the country's financial stability was threatened by the demands made on MTN by Nigerian authorities.

Nigeria's central bank fined Standard Chartered 2.4 billion naira ($7.8 million) over the fund transfer; Stanbic IBTC Bank 1.8 billion naira, Citibank 1.2 billion naira and Diamond Bank 250 million naira.

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